As we enter the 19th year of the Premier League, it is safe to say there hasn’t been a plethora of winners of the prestigious trophy. Only Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Blackburn have ever lifted the Premier League trophy, and with Manchester United claiming over half of those triumphs, there hasn’t exactly been an even distribution of glory across the land.
For much of the past two decades both Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur have lain dormant, with City even descending into the third tier of English football for the 1998-99 season. In the past there have been many false dawns, but with both clubs now pushing for Champions League berths, the spotlight of not only the English game, but also the world game, is now illuminating both Eastlands and White Hart Lane. With Chelsea winning the title whilst losing 6 games last season, and many of the teams challenging for the title this season having already dropped a substantial number of points after only 11 games, is the only thing in the way of a title push an absence of a mentality and culture of success?
Both clubs have decorated histories, but with Manchester City infamously having not won anything of note since the League Cup in 1976, and winning the League Cup in 1999 and 2008 being Tottenham’s only noteworthy achievements since the formation of the Premier League in the 1992-93 season, neither can lay claim to being silverware heavyweights in the modern game.
Harry Redknapp has famously claimed that Spurs are a couple of world-class players away from the title;
‘I think Tottenham may be one or two big signings away from being a team that could win the championship… One or two players in the right positions – and I’m talking about two top, top players in the right positions.’
With the way Spurs have been playing in Europe who can argue with him. In Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale, Tottenham already have at least two world-class players, but this scintillating form in Europe has often failed to translate to the domestic scene with disappointing results against West Ham, Wigan and Bolton, Spurs find themselves 10 points off the lead prior to the midweek fixtures.
Manchester City on the other hand has, arguably, one of the best squads in England. What the Eastlands outfit do however seem to lack, is stability and consistency both on and off the pitch. A run of three straight losses prior to the victory over West Brom at the Hawthorns meant Roberto Mancini’s job has become under threat, in spite of the fact they currently lie in fourth position, 5 points off the pace and 3 points behind their city rivals who they play on Wednesday evening.
Although both sides clearly believe the Premier League title is not too many steps away from them, there is an air of trepidation around even mentioning the prospect of housing the trophy in the respective silverware rooms of Eastlands and White Hart Lane. Mancini has even stated;
“Chelsea are the best team in the Premier League at the moment… They are probably going to win the Premier League title easily.”
Whether this is gamesmanship or a cheap shot at City’s Manchester rivals from the Italian is unclear, but after the derision Mancini endured having claimed he would get City fourth place last season, brash arrogance is clearly not the dish of the day.
With the past two decades having been so comprehensively dominated by Manchester United, and in sporadic doses, Arsenal and Chelsea, it is plain to see why an aura of dominance is difficult to procure at clubs beginning to emerge at the zenith of the Premier League. But as has been seen at Liverpool this season, when the veil slips and the boot is on the other foot, these big domestic games aren’t quite as scary as they used to be.
With both Manchester City and Spurs inconsistently impressing this season, there are clearly other issues at hand in stopping them achieving the ultimate goal of Premier League glory. Namely, for Spurs, it is the purchasing of world class players, and at City, it is the prospect of stability and moulding a side which play together with regularity. But if and when these concerns are dealt with, both clubs must have the belief that they can go all the way before it can be achieved. After all, if they can’t believe in their own success, you can guarantee neither will Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester United.