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English Premier League: weekly three talking points

Editor: Tong Xinxin 丨CCTV.com

12-11-2015 17:07 BJT

By Colin Robinson, CNTV Commentator

Welcome to this week’s edition of EPL3TP, where we break down three talking points from the Premier League. This week: money can’t buy glory or entertainment in Manchester, and Aston Villa fans are staring into the abyss.

1

Boring, boring Man United

Manchester United has become boring. It never seemed possible when Alex Ferguson was the manager, as the club was almost synonymous with excitement, drama and style throughout his 26 years in charge.

But then David Moyes, who replaced Ferguson in 2013, oversaw a torrid season of dour football that ended in a seventh place finish. And the only source of entertainment was watching how far the then reigning champion could fall in the space of a year.

In summer 2014, Louis Van Gaal, a Dutchman with a reputation for attacking football and a colorful personality, arrived and was given a huge budget to reshape the squad. But despite bringing in big name attacking players such as Radamel Falcao and Ángel Di María, Van Gaal couldn’t build an inspiring team. Man Utd finished fourth, establishing a sort of dull efficiency.

And Van Gaal’s own behavior has provided less entertainment than expected. While at Bayern Munich, the coach famously dropped his trousers to make a point during an argument with his players. But when then-West Ham manager Sam Allardyce criticized his long ball strategy last season, Van Gaal’s response was disappointingly muted: He produced a long, dull dossier of statistics in a futile attempt to negate the criticism.

Still, the club spent big in the summer, bringing in young, expensive stars Antony Martial and Memphis Depay, and there was reason to believe things might get more interesting at Old Trafford. But the team has had few exciting performances and has struggled for goals. In fact, in the 15 games played so far, United has scored 15 fewer goals than Leicester, 10 fewer than Man City and seven fewer than Arsenal.

In Man Utd’s last match, an insipid 0-0 draw with West Ham on Saturday, fans couldn’t contain their frustration, and they booed the team off the pitch.

To add to Van Gaal’s woes, Man Utd has just been knocked out of the Champions League. The Dutchman’s contract expires at the end of next season. If he can’t find a way to bring his flair to the team, he might not make it to then.

Man City’s billions haven’t plugged squad gaps

Money is often the solution to problems in the PL, but it isn’t a guarantee of success. Chelsea’s squad is among the most expensive in the world, but it’s been languishing in the bottom half of the table and just lost at home to lowly Bournemouth. Man Utd has spent a fortune in the last two years, yet it has rarely had an impressive run of form in that time.

Likewise, Manchester City has been struggling to buy its way to glory. Having spent £31.8 million on Eliaquim Mangala in summer 2014, City tried to strengthen its defense again this year, giving Valencia £28.5 million for Nicolás Otamendi. But with its main man Vincent Kompany missing through injury, the defense looks so vulnerable that it could undermine the club’s title challenge.

Without the Belgian center half, City has lost 4-1 to Liverpool and Tottenham. And while his absence continued on Saturday, City fell 2-0 to Stoke, conceding two goals in the first 20 minutes.

City’s attack hasn’t helped much, either, lacking the depth you might expect of one of the world’s richest clubs. In January, Wilfried Bony was signed for £25 million, but he hasn’t looked nearly as dangerous as Sergio Agüero, the man he was bought to cover for. Though Agüero has struggled for fitness this season, he has seven goals in nine games; Bony has scored just twice in 11 matches.

For fans of any other team, City’s inability to solve its problems through spending is surely a good thing. Otherwise, who could stop Manuel Pellegrini’s team?

Aston Villa’s PL place hangs in the balance

Aston Villa’s short-lived lead against Southampton on Saturday was a reflection of the club’s season so far: a fleeting moment of hope during an exhausting, endless struggle.

The season started promisingly, with an opening day win at Bournemouth, but the team has gone without a league victory since.

Following a disastrous string of results that left the team one place from bottom, manager Tim Sherwood was fired. Then came another glimmer of hope as Rémi Garde, a coach with a decent reputation in France, was brought in.

Garde’s reign started with feint promise: A 0-0 draw with Man City gave the team something to build on. But any momentum the team could have gained from that result was crushed the very next game, a 4-0 defeat to Everton. Villa followed that with a devastating 3-2 loss to Watford. And despite leading against Southampton, it had to settle for a draw.

Now, the club finds itself deep in trouble with just six points from 15 matches. Though it may draw some inspiration from Sunderland and Leicester’s dramatic escapes from relegation in recent seasons, few teams have recovered from such a precarious position.  Villa is at great risk of its first relegation since 1987.

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


 

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