Robbie Savage, in his position as BBC’s top pundit-provocateur, has taken the opportunity of the international break’s news drought to let Manchester United know their title challenge is already over.
“City lost the title last August,” he says. “The quality of signings – not good enough. Didn’t improve the squad and I think the big argument is, have United lost the title this August?”
While Mr Savage’s treatment of the English language is reminiscent of the subtlety of some of his ball-winning techniques, his theory has a cat-among-the-pigeons quality rarely produced by the national broadcaster’s football sofa men.
“I feel sorry for David Moyes,” he adds. “I think he’s been let down.”
Fighting talk, indeed, but have United, 7/2 to retain the Premier League title, blown it already?
They are currently five points behind leaders Liverpool, and while teams have closed greater gaps during the season to snatch the crown, only one team – on two occasions – has overcome a bigger gap after just three games to win the title.
That team was Manchester United, who won the inaugural Premier League title in 1992/93 after lying eight points behind leaders Coventry when three games in. In 2007/08, they were seven points behind leaders Manchester City after three and still woke up in time to win the league.
The infrequency with which it happens, however, shows Savage may have a valid argument, and that points dropped in these earliest of games can nobble a challenge from the outset.
As for their failing to adequately restock the team during the close season, United’s summer shopping has undeniably underwhelmed.
A failure to add talent, even in the good years, can lead to a weakened team, complacency amongst the lazier players when their place in the line-up is unchallenged by fresh blood, and fan discontent.
The Australian cricket team are currently the poster boys for great sides who fail to heed the warning signals to strengthen in time.
At a time when other teams have added to their squads, these factors could easily combine to see United’s 11-point victory margin last season crumble.
Savage goes on to tip Manchester City for the title, Chelsea second, United third and Liverpool sneaking the fourth place.
Moyes’ next game is at home to Crystal Palace on September 14th and he is 1/5 to record a first home victory of the season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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