Monday, 12 September 2011

Why it's City and not United who should be gearing up for Champions League success


Remember that plonker who whacked a tattoo on his arm claiming Manchester City as Champions League winners in 2011?
Well Kirk Bradley, you may want to pop out and get some Tippex.
You see, Bradley might have been a laughing stock in the red half of the city last year - but revenge could well be his in Munich next May.
That's right, it's going to be City and not United taking on Barcelona when Europe's top competition reaches its climax.
No, I've not gone as barking mad as Mr Bradley. The truth of the matter is the Blueacticos have a real chance of making it all the way to the final in their debut Champions League season.
A far better chance than a Manchester United side that is still in its transitional stage in European terms.
At Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson is trying a new approach to beating his arch nemesis having failed twice in the past three years to ruffle Barca's elegantly plumed feathers.
He has bravely bought the best of British during the transfer window in the belief his young flocks' energy and pace hold the secret to a win that ends the Spanish artisan's dominance of Europe.
And whilst they are certainly not sheepish in the Premier League, United's new wave of exciting young talent lacks the experience and know-how needed to win in Europe.
And then there is Ferguson himself. Despite being rightly regarded as a managerial legend he has at time faltered on the biggest stage.
The set up of his team in Barcelona in 1999, with Ryan Giggs on the right and David Beckham in central midfield, was horribly unbalanced and the Reds were second best to Bayern Munich until sheer guts won them the game.
It was a case of passion over planning that won them the trophy. Beating Chelsea in 2007 was an easier mission. No tactical battle there against a rival Premier League side.
Ferguson admits mistakes were made in facing Barca three years ago and those errors were not resolved at Wembley.
City boss Roberto Mancini is a sharper tack on that front having grown up in an environment where mental prowess is as appreciated as much as physical power.
His knowledge gained winning three titles as a boss in the notorious chess board games of Serie A have set him up nicely for European confrontations.
And as Rafa Benitez proved with Liverpool, a team's deficiencies can be hidden with a clever appreciation of the tactical side of the game once you jet away from the rough and tumble of the Premier League.
Not that City's cheque book challenge has left them with many weak spots.
Manchester United first team coach Rene Meulensteen was mistaken in his recent claim that United have an advantage over the Blues with his jibe that Ferguson's men ``know what it takes to win trophies''.
They boast a World Cup and Euro 2008 winner in David Silva and players that have won a combined five Champions League titles and 26 league crowns across Europe.
That's the kind of experience that makes United's young Turks Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young look like rookies in comparison.
Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez have enough firepower to trouble defenders across Europe whilst Samir Nasri's link-play with Silva can open up the best backlines.
At the back, City look slightly under par compared with the top teams in the competition but the plethora of Italian coaches at the club can engineer the defence to keep clean sheets.
It's a potent combination. One that is set up to win European matches and kick start a busy summer at tattoo shops around Manchester.
Follow me on Twitter @jezbutler