What a difference a month makes in the Premier League. After an FA Cup loss at home to Arsenal saw people questioning whether Louis van Gaal was truly the right man for the job at Old Trafford, three hugely impressive victories against Tottenham, Liverpool and now Manchester City has seen the Dutchman’s side climb to third in the table, with a second-placed finish an easy target. United are playing their best football at the most crucial moment of the campaign, and with a number of big-money signings being touted in the summer, surely the aim will be the title next season rather than another top-four finish.
The parallels between Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini’s sophomore season and that of his predecessor Roberto Mancini are worrying. An excellent debut campaign has been followed up by a hugely disappointing second year, and after this crushing derby loss – City’s fifth away defeat in a row in all competitions – the club’s oil-rich owners may have decided that enough is enough. Pellegrini can have no excuses for how poorly his players have performed given how much money he spent in the summer, and it seems increasingly likely that he will pay for it with his job.
Touted as one of the best centre-halves in the game last season, City skipper Vincent Kompany’s fall from grace has been alarming and has come to embody his side’s underwhelming campaign. The Belgian was withdrawn at half-time against United having performed poorly in the opening 45 minutes, and was lucky to remain on the pitch after a desperate, ill-disciplined challenge on Daley Blind. Kompany has the air of a man completely devoid of confidence and belief in his own abilities. Much like his manager, is his time at Eastlands also up?