I was very surprised when I found out Manchester United had made their best start to a league season in 26 years. Since Alex Ferguson took over at Old Trafford back in 1986, they had never won their first five games.
It made me wonder: Is this team really that great, or is it that the other traditional contenders are just not that good anymore?
Having considered this question for a while, I decided it is the latter option which is closer to the truth.
And here is my argument why.
Let me start by establishing the fact that Manchester United has a great squad. Wayne Rooney, Nani, Chicharito, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are all world class players.
However, if you consider the fact that Ferdinand and Vidic have missed most of the season so far due to injury, and that the team’s central midfielders are quite average, it is very surprising to me United have been able to win every single one of their first five league matches. Especially when you look at the calibre of the sides they have played: the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Before I get into what has gone wrong at some of the top teams in England, let me delve deeper into what has gone right at Old Trafford. Ferguson deserves a lot of credit for what he did over the summer. He may have lost several influential senior squad members such as Edwin Van Der Sar, Paul Scholes, John O’Shea and Wes Brown.
But you wouldn’t know it from the performances so far, would you?
The players that have been brought in are faster, hungrier and better. The recruiting strategy was spot on and youngsters such as Phil Jones, Ashley Young and the returning Danny Wellbeck –- who spent last season on loan at Sunderland - have fitted in perfectly.
The winning mentality has been passed on by some of the more established players and the transition has been seamless.
How well the transition has been planned and executed at United has been the key to their success in comparison to what has happened elsewhere in the Premier League. All of the traditional contenders are also rebuilding, but they have done it a lot worse than the defending champions.
Take a look at Arsenal. Arsene Wenger’s reluctance to spend money on quality reinforcements for several seasons meant his top players forced their way out of the club and he was left with just a few days to replace them.
At Chelsea, the revolving door bringing in a different manager practically every year hasn’t helped, and so far this season Andre Villas-Boas hasn’t had time to impose his tactics and his philosophy on his squad. Add to that the fact that the most expensive striker in the Premier League can’t score to save his life, and you realize why they are not firing on all cylinders yet.
Further north, Liverpool are also in transition. Kenny Dalglish has had a lot of money to spend but he hasn’t found his strongest XI yet. That was proven once more on Sunday against Tottenham when Andy Carroll was anonymous and Jordan Henderson ineffectual yet again.
Last but definitely not least, Manchester City are looking very strong but their failure to sign at least one world class central defender will come back to haunt them. They will score at will this season, but Joleon Lescott, Vincent Kompany and Kolo Toure aren’t good enough to keep clean sheets week in and week out. City are on their way to becoming a force in the Premier League, but they aren’t there just yet.
As far as I am concerned United deserve a lot of credit for their spectacular start, but this is not, at least not right now, the best team Ferguson has ever managed at Old Trafford. They are making the most of the fact that the others just aren’t that good.
I think you underestimate the squad and overestimate your opinion. United have been in three european cup finals in the last five years....They've won four premierships and would have won five in a row creating history baring a freak season where they had no defenders/vds missing for a number of games all at the same time....
I agree in part with your comments Pedro, however i think you're a touch harsh on Man Utds opponents being poorer than in previous years. The quality of the premier league is very high and whilst there are some poor teams in the league, this season already, the quality is far better than last year. Last year was a poor season with even Man utd performing under par and still winning the league.
I think Utd have spent wisely again and in Jones,Chiquarito,Smalling and Nani they have some of the best players in the league. Utd have benefited from releasing the likes of Brown and O'Shea, whilst they have been great servants for the club their time had come and gone.
Man City appears to be the strongest threat, but with all the money spent by them you can’t buy the league title.
It’s a long season and let’s hope it carries on like its started.
Sorry but this article is beyond terrible its awful! How can you say the premier league is weaker? its not that atoll! Man utd are just head and shoulders above the rest, why? becasue there playing sublime football, how can you down grade them and create the excuse of everyone else is worse, how come arsenal are getting hammered by everyone? Looks as if the premier league is briliant if teams are managing to beat arsenal, and dont say beacause they lack star quality, with the players they have they sould atleast be top 10 right now.
i love the game
this is a rubbish article, and there are two things that are obvious. 1) you have not been watching the games. and 2) you know little about football.
Awful article. So if the English premier league is so weak which are the "strong" leagues in the world?
Is it the spanish league where Barcelona won 8-0 at the weekend and only Real and Barcelona have a look in?
Is it the It italian league where Inter Milan got beat by an awful Turkish team?
Pedro thanx very much as u said,u've said it all.united re dbest 4now expect more winning frm them.one lov united
Spot on pedro your submission is accurate.
You are telling me that Man City having spent hundreds of millions with numerous world superstars in their team – and Chelsea likewise – are not 'that good'.
I would argue that Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea would give any team in the world, except Barcelona, a very close game and would probably be victorious.
This article is nonsense. Vincent Kompany isn't a world class defender? Yeah right... that alone proves your lack of knowledge on the subject of football.
Your talking out of your backside, United also rarely have a good preseason yet they have beat everyteam they faced in america including Barcalona. And you will also note with the return of the weaker midfield players like carrick and fletcher the performances have dipped and become less convincing. United have done so well becuase of the impact of welbeck, cleverly, smalling, young and jones. Now wellbeck and cleverly are injured the performance levels are going down again. However for you story to make any sense then youd have to explain how we went through pre season without a single loss, something united never do, and how we also beat Barcalona. Maybe you should pay more attention to what happend at the start of the season before printing such assanine articles
sir alex fergurson the best manager in the whole world.
ypur wrong man utd are just class
what do you guys know about football. Your not writer just another man utd hater...
Pedro, at what point did you "find out" about Manchester United's startling form this season. Had you missed their crisp play in the pre-season junket to The U.S.A? Had you failed to notice their play in the Community Shield at Wembley? Had you taken the summer off and failed to read and understand what the exodus and influx of players, of the calibre of Ashley Young might mean to the team? I would not categorize Young as a "young" player but rather one who has finally found his niche with a collection of superb players. I would also take exception to the analysis that the central midfielders are ordinary – Cleverly won that place from established players with considerable skill, and although Anderson can be patchy in his pass accuracy, at other times he is spot on and always forward thinking in his play. Your work is shoddy at best, perhaps it is time to be surprised by some other sport!
Ah for God's sake Pedro, there are 5 games gone and you are saying its a one horse race already. United will drop points and Chelsea and Man City will catch up. Base your opinion at the end of the season not after five games. But you are right United will win the league and right about Arsenal being in a mess. But I think your article points out the need for a salary cap like in the nfl to make leagues like the epl and la liga more competitive as I think if this continues fans will become bored and will look for another sport for enjoyment. Good article though.
Pedro, This is an interesting article that ultimately argues that the premier league is not as competitive as it may have been in previous seasons, and as a result United's early season success is more a consequence of weakened opposition than of fundamental excellence.
I would disagree with this argument. First of all, when we actually look at the first five fixtures three of the five fixtures have been at Old Trafford. Manchester United have not lost at Old Trafford since April 2010, furthermore United recorded only two draws at Old Trafford last season. My point being Old Trafford is a fortress. Second of all Ferguson utilises the width of the pitch perfectly deploying fast and agile wingers on either wing. The average central midfielders at the club, I agree offer little to be excited about, however when they play with good possession efficiency and simple discipline they quickly feed the ball into either Rooney, Nani or Young. Simply put, in this system they do need to possess the exceptional individual capabilities of Fabregas or Silva because United effectively play four forwards that often claim the ball just beyond the half-way. Anderson displayed poor possession against Chelsea but when he did get it right he looked to release Young, Nani or Rooney as early as possible. The counter attacking style of United especially at Old Trafford does not require someone to dictate the tempo but rather it requires that central midfielders can efficiently feed the truly gifted individuals in this team.
I struggle to see how United could approach fixtures at Stamford Bridge or Anfield in the same manner, this is perhaps were their central midfield weakness may be exposed. A player in the mould of Luka Modric could offer United possessive stability away from home, as when actually in consistent possession players like Fletcher or Carrick often get caught out as average ball playing midfielders. It will be interesting to see how the season develops but in all honestly these freakishly high scoring results that have befixed the recent fixtures between teams of the upper echeolons of the Premier league are inextricably linked to the fact they have taken place at Old Trafford. I severley doubt United could dominate in such a manner away from home and as a result I do not believe the Premier League is weaker but rather that until a team beats United at Old Trafford the factor of intimidation and fear will engulf all future opposition.
It is true that ManU dominate, but there are other variables that you may want to take note of: first off, they have a the best manager in the world. He develops players; not like most teams who go and buy them. The second point to make follows the previous point and that is he goes to the reserves before he decides to splash cash. Every year there is at least one new face in the squad from the reserves. The other point to be made is that many teams in the premiere league are now adopting this method. they are looking to the future and it is no longer a season-by season thing. Spurs have the likes of Livermore, Rose, Walker, and Townsend to name a few, all of which, are under the age of 23. ANd to my team, the good o' boys of West London. Yes they had a bad game but it can be seen that AVB is planning to for the future with putting his faith into the Likes of Sturridge, Bertand, and McEachran, and Lukaku. Hopefully in the future clubs will all do this on a regular basis.
Totally agree with about ManU central midfield. The team is yet to have a "general" there. With teams like Barcelona, Real, Bayern Munich and AC Milan, ManU are going to badly. The team needs a "general" in central midfield..Pronto!
Terrible article because you forget to mention that Ferguson has signed some of the best young English talent around. The team which hailed the lights of Scholes, Beckham and Giggs was not instantly a great but rather developed into a great team. This Manchester team is far from the finished article, however, it may yet mature into one of the great Manchester Teams with the likes of Jones, De Gea, Smalling, Welbeck, Cleverly, Fabio, Nani, Young etc.
I hate it when people can only question the central midfield department of man utd. No one seems to see how Man Utd have 4 brilliant wingers that have been able to counter the central midfield shortcoming. And the fact that the spanish league are only dominated by 2 teams also don't seem to make any clue to some people that only 2 teams are great teams at Spain. Others are only just average. So saying the Premier League is weak is somehow not too acceptable..
This writer is a confused man.
Well Mr. Pinto, to start with, I confess to being a lifelong Manchester United Supporter. Having now reached the age of 65, I have seen most of the major developments that have taken place over the years, and you might be right, or, you might be wrong
All the top teams do get tested against what the rest of Europe has to offer in competitions like the Champions League Etc, and they do show up "reasonably well" in them.
A rather ancient but still oft quoted anecdote, is that "Football is a game of two half's", it 's still true for individual games, but not for the game of British football itself.
Nowadays, it is divided, roughly, into the one quarter that has money to burn,most of them in the EPL, and the three quarters than don't, and that is where a BIG problem lies.
We will end up with the clubs with money in a "virtual league" of their own, at the top of the EPL, fighting for the glory, the honers and the best players, many of which will come from the poorer clubs in Britain and the world, clubs that can't afford to keep them.
The rich will get richer and the poor get poorer, and so will our beloved game of football as it is sold off the foreign billionaires who mainly have no soccer background, but are bored and looking for a new for form of amusement to keep them occupied.
I completely disagree, United are simply far ahead of their rivals who do happen to be good teams. Yes Arsenals form is poor but they are the exception not the rule. United new from last year they had to step up their game and they have – exceptionally well.
Honestly dude, if you had a clue about football you would not have expressed this opinion as misinformed as you are. I am a Gooner supporter and honestly, keeping our dismal start to this season aside, United are playing some world class football and I admire Ferguson for the competitive spirit he instills in his team. Mental toughness combined with the physical and technical ability of his XI make United who they are...well done Sir Alex...this year United are playing a lot more open football, utilizing their speed and youth in the squad to create opportunities for the accomplished players...If they continue playing like this...they will take the EPL title hands down...
The Premier league is weak ? So what about la Liga, Serie A , the French league ...
s a Man Utd fan, this is the saddest day in my life because I got hold of a classified memo from Pedro to the English Football Association.
Suggestions to make English Football the best in the world
a) The word football should be replaced with futbol.
b) Fans all over the world don't like English style of futbol which is ugly, less technical with long passes, headers, volleys, overhead kicks and occasional handbags. The style should be changed to a tiki-taka type "beautiful" futbol.
c) Only two teams should vie for the title.
d) Difference between 1st two and the third team should be 20+ points.
e) Only top 2 teams should get the majority of the TV income.
f) Suitable players from other clubs should be recruited at any cost and any approach is possible. If the team is not selling, you should unsettle its best player using peer pressure.
g) Players should go to ground the moment they are touched by an opponent's hair, beard, finger or breath.
Based on this, I fear if English Futbol will ever be great.
You're so wrong on may levels. The premier league is stronger than ever. Man utd are a great team but they will not have it their way all season. They have had a great start as great teams tend to do. If they can maintain it against all the really good teams in the EPL throughout the season their quality is unquestionable.
I think its a little too early to say that the other teams in the league are not good enough. If this article had come in say 3 months into the league not just after over a month, it would have been more credible. I think Pedro's underestimating the current squad by saying they are just benefiting from the lack of quality or preparedness of other teams.
I am a UTD supporter however i believe this article is spot on...The guy is not comparing the PL to spain or italy what hes saying is that all the top teams are in transition and that simply man utd have been top in that transition... because some positions havent been replaced..Take utds wins...Where is tottenhams youth down the line?Bale,lennon? Where is Chelsea Drogba?essien? Nevermind arsenal...eventhough they lost players i still havent seen anything from arshavin or van persie that says world class... Liverpool miss a gerrard figure like hell!!
Utd are in transition and are excellent but i would still like to see this team in europe before i can judge...
This is just the beginning of the season, a long season,
so let"s wait a little before start talking about how good the
united the best team in the world. u dnt understand football dats all by saying that priemership is weak. just luk at all those other teams that are beating arsenal. so u cannot say that only unted is dominationg. utter rubbish
I totally disagree with your opinion of man utd this season. Don't make excuses for chelsea or any other team. You are a man utd hater and you seriously need to understand that united are that good to win their first 5 games. I can't believe the excuses you made for chelsea or even the fact they change manager all the time. They have spent sooo much money on their team and they do have depth so there is no excuse for their performances and uniteds midfield is not average cause its the best in the premiership.
Your Analysis is just so so wrong,look at the man united team, the average age is 23years,they are young and committed to the course.they play as a team, talking about the midfield, Nani and Ashley,the two wingers are threat to any team in the world including Barca. Anderson an Fletcher can stand there ground against any team.
your article is complete rubbish, you know nothing about football! Baca won last two champions of la liga, and two ecl champions in 3 years, does it mean the world football level weaker?
United deserve all their wining
Pure English mentality, never accepting wrong. All the posts here except some few ones never understand Pedro's point here. Did you guys watched Man U against Benfica? You've not played the likes of Barca, Real, Bayern or AC. Even now the La Liga or Bundesliga is better. Man U is monopolizing the EPL. This season it is still going to be Man U, but not in the champions league. So if La Liga is duopoly then EPL is monopoly.
Man utd deserve all the credit.I think it's unfair for you to say the reason they are dominating is because other teams are weak.If you look at the other top English teams form in the CL you realise EPL is a very strong team and if you take the fact that Man Utd has been in the final of the CL 3 times in the last 4yrs you should give them respect.Man Utd is dominating because it is the team in the world after Barcelona and its got nothin to do with other teams in England being weaker
Let me prove some points here:
– In Spain Real and Barca are the only title contenders, I think for a decade now; there is never a other team to challenge them for the title. Only they receive the biggest TV deals in Spain while other teams look for scraps (unlike the EPL where every team gets its fair square).
– Never mind who is the league champion, the German league has always had only Bayern; I say this because only Bayern seems to have any success in Europe.
– As for Italy, well their results in Europe (except for Inter's CL triumph) speak for themselves. They are poor and boring to watch.
I also watched the game against Benfica and I thought that United played very well, considering that the entire 5 players of the midfield played only their first full match and that so far this season these players are just the second string (and what a string that is – watch last nights game against Leeds) of Man U.
United is the second best team in Europe if what happened at Wembly is anything to go by, to have a good start is not because their opponents are weak it's because it's the best team In EPL.Yes United don't have a Xavi or Messi but you must agree that the present side is better side than we saw last season.Again it's to early to judge ,you should have written this blog in December,given that United are known to get better as the season progresses.La liga will be won by either Barca or Real madrid can anyone tell me who will win the EPL?The Epl is the srongest and the most competitive in the world.I beg to differ Pedro
Eferaiyena David, I saw the game man utd vs benfica. The team didn't show their full team in thar match. Why? because they would accept Chelse's challenge 3 days behind. If Man Utd domiated the EPL, would they hide Nani, Chicharito, De Gea and so on?
I think Pedro has done some great analyses. United is been over hyped. Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool it seems have grown weaker for this campaign and will find it difficult to win on the road or have super subs as the EPL gathers momentum.
I'm a united fans come rain come dry.I'm nt supprise by our performance so far,bcz we have all it take to make a different in all facets of life be it epl,champions league nd beyond.I dismiss such article that the epl is weak so to say.Up united.
Pedro I think your article is passionate but misinformed . Firstly its utter rubbish to say that teams in england arent as good . If u watch the games you'l notice that its the previously 'weaker' teams that are just getting better . And as far as Manchester utd is concerned this season has been a long time coming . Every single player in that team from the bench to the pitch has premier league experience . Loan spells and buying in the league has been the big PLUS for Man utd . The MAn Citys and Chelseas however have relied on other leagues to nuture talent the bulldoze for players cheque book first . The league hasnt changed , Man Utd has just got better .
As usual, my humble two pence...
This article is spot on! People never tire of complaining about La-Liga being a two-horse league. However, the EPL does not fare any better. How many Premier League teams have won the title in the last 15 years?
This season however, the gap between ManU and the rest of the EPL teams will only continue widening. Indeed, the only team that will 'attempt' to pose a challenge will be ManCity. The rest either have squads that were resoundingly depleted over the break or have never been known to challenge for the title. That ManU may probably go through the season uneabten is not a far-fetched idea.
However, at the Championship stage, it will be a different story. Their dominance will not be translated at the bigger stage and they will probably be knocked out by stronger teams at the quarters or semis. they wil not reach the finals and that is a fact. I will be here at the end of this season to reiterate to you all that I told you so.
Man u just need to keep dis form at least frm now to january for them to lift de trophy.
Manu is the best team in the world,believe this u will believe anything
I agree with some of this article as the traditional main contenders, with the exception of Man. City, are in a transitional/rebuilding phase. Chelsea are short a confident striker and need to find replacements for the ageing Lampard and Terry. Arsenal's problems are too numerous to mention, while Liverpool, understandably, need a season to find their best eleven. Only Man. City are on a similar footing to United, who ended their transitional phase in the summer. For me, City are now the real deal offensively, and I can't see how you can seriously dismiss Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Kolarov, Richards and now Toure as a defensive force in the Premier League. Your analysis of United is also a bit off. Fergie bought wisely but he had some luck, as, apart from De Gea, his new signings bedded down immediately while the form of Wellbeck and Cleverly, prior to their injuries, was a nice little bonus. I agree that the midfield can be a bit industrial, but with the attacking options United possess it's perfectly functional. Carrick, Anderson, Fletcher etc, only have to win the ball and distribute to the wings or the front men to get the job done within a system that is largely built on counter attacking. Not every team needs a Xavi or Iniesta because pretty intricate football in not the only succesful way to play. So your article is a mixed bag. But I would have to agree with many of those who've posted - it's way too early in the season to suggest the quality of the EPL is depleted.
I share the writer's opinion about the Premiership. I am really worried about the fact that United are on top so early in the season.
Checking the results of matchday 1 in Champs league and Europa league, only Chelsea won a game from all the British teams, United against a Benfica team they would have easily beaten had more shots on their goal like it happened against Chelsea.
Watching the game against Chelsea, Fergie has Ramires and Torres to thank because they were breached several times by a team-in-transition like Chelsea.
I am of the strong opinion that this United team is an average team playing in an average league with the might of history.
I would like to say this, when the Germans, Spanish and italians rise, you don't hear much of English teams; Bayern were in the finals because they beat United, Schalke couldn't ,but were in the semis.
I see the Germans improving this year which will show the average status of the Prmiership
Man United dominance is due to the long stay of Fergie in the club with virtually the same players each season. He knows the capability of opponents and he plans for their defeat.
Sir Alex is a very good coach.
like most journo's, pedro is superficial in his analysis, a 5 yr plan, renewal, etc is not good luck!
i too in almost 30yrs of broadcasting, now realise i too, often underplayed, good planning!
Ferguson is probably the best youth development coach on the planet, with the exception of Barca's world class academy!
But also having coached on development level, results come to those who are patient but also ruthless in sorting the wheat from the chaff!
To be fair, I have to admit I support/ted Man Utd since 1963, and South Africa can learn a lot from Man U, in becoming an African powerhouse!
sir Alex is just a good coach whether the others are weak or not, were they not strong when and he won the epl last season? in any case he has use a weaker side to win a whole lot of games before
well,this is bad conclusion.if manutd is dominating as a result of there qality players dat does not mean dat d epl eroded.
Sir Alex Ferguson is a massive institution. He is a squad builder of the highest order. Players come. Sooner or later they fit into his institution and system. They deliver and become great for club and country. As a result Manchester United keeps winning and taming local opposition with customary ease. Other football managers, players and club leaders have to work harder to challenge the seasoned Ferguson and his legion of Red Devils who are known to create hell fire for their distinguished opponents all over the EPL world.
Well! the analysis seems technical but history of the game and especially with united they usually comes up with something new @ every game plotting strategic game plan for each team.
It looks like the league will be ended with no more than 5 matches to play. The advantage Manchester has over other clubs is impressive. United got better, City got better and all other teams either got worse ot stayed even as the most.
I wonder why Chelsea did so bad at the time to bring new players, come on they need to realize that they are competing against MUFC. Bringing in average or good players won't make a difference. They need top players.
Well, I hope a lot of the Man U fans are gradually coming to terms with Pedro Pinto's write-up? checking the UCL results of English teams, i am beginning to agree with Mr Pinto and I really think the Germans will rise this term.
how else do you explain a 6-1 annihilation of United at OT? for a team that had more shots on its goal than it gave Chelsea, Benfica, a team that played a draw with FC Basel, it wasn't a surprise they lost this much to City whose strikers know how to take their chances better than some other opponents
Have you ever seen manchaester united win the champions league convincingly... erm no!
In the 1990s united dominated the premier league but struggled to crack Europe... they finally did this in 1999 against Bayern courtesy of Peter S (the big dane) and the woodwork. The reappeared to beat chelsea (on penalties)..... sorry i have never seen a man utd team dominate the CL in the way in Barca, Milan and Madrid have..... yes they too dominate their respective domestic leagues but they have also controlled and outplayed all european teams in the CL finals. Utd dominate the EPL because the lower end teams are technically poor compared to their conterparts in other leagues.
The article is correct but poorly argued.
To reinforce utds easy ride in the EPL
in 20 years – never finished outside the top 3.
So yes... utds dominace is as much owing to a weak EPL as it is to their own self proclaimed brilliance.
Sorry.....what did you say about Man City? Who won the EPL again? And who won the Champions league and FA Cup? That's right.....if Man U don't get Kagawa and at least another couple of creative players, I don't seem the contending for the 2012/13 title at all.