English Football

The cock is crowing three times…Premier title, what Premier title?

Bertie Mee and Don Howe relax over a game of Subbuteo as they try to work out a plan to erode Leeds United's big lead at the top

Bertie Mee and Don Howe relax over a game of Subbuteo as they try to work out a plan to erode Leeds United’s big lead at the top

Who is going to be next to deny interest in the Premier League title race? The way that top managers are speaking at the moment, it sounds like they have already handed the prize to Jose Mourinho.

While it is a little early to throw the towel in, the reality is that all bets are almost off. Chelsea have a five point lead, Manchester City blew their chance of closing the gap and nobody else is consistent or equipped enough to wrestle the race away from the top two. That’s the message we’re getting.

But even City’s Manuel Pellegrini looks like he’s a “dead man walking”. He told the BBC that he’s under no pressure to win the title again this season, his second with the club. Who is he kidding? And of course he’s not worried about his job – all big name coaches revolve in an ever decreasing circle of appointment and reappointment. There’s talk of Pep Guardiola or that great survivor Carlo Ancelotti replacing him when his three-year contract expires in the summer.

Pellegrini seems an honest broker, but if he is under no pressure to win, why are people like Pep and Carlo being named as his successors already?

One man who doesn’t seem to acknowledge he’s under pressure is Arsene Wenger. It’s March 3 and he has already admitted to the club’s fans, players and directors that “we are nowhere near winning the Premier League and nowhere close to being in the race.” That may be true this season, but there’s something very conclusive about his statement..and also somewhat contradictory. He goes on to say that City should not give up because they have been eight points behind and come back to win in the past. Arsenal trail Chelsea by nine points. What a difference a point makes.

Wenger greatly respects his club’s history. He might like to look at the 1970-71 season for inspiration. Arsenal trailed a seemingly invincible Leeds side by seven points with 11 games to go, but won the title. Chelsea look in a strong position, but as Monty Python once said, “Things happen after an acid bath”. That acid bath could come in the form of two sub-optimal results. Two – that’s all.

Louis van Gaal wrote off Manchester United as far back as December, but his side has quietly gone about its business and the smart money might be on a concerted title bid next season. The only manager that’s being bullish at the moment is Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers but he’s really talking about a top four finish.

What is difficult to fathom out is why people are so quick to rule themselves out? Is it kidology, self-preservation, itchy feet or just that the leaders are so good? I repeat, Chelsea have a five point lead on City, nine points on Arsenal. Come on guys, make a fight of it.

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