Maybe the manager’s expectations weren’t too high. Maybe the fan’s expectations WERE too high. Either way, for Pep Guardiola or José Mourinho, if the season was to end now, then it hasn’t been that bad.
City would qualify for the Champion’s League through their Premier League position and United would qualify for the Europa League because of their EFL Cup triumph and their position in the Premier League. This may not be exactly how the supporters envisaged it at the start of the campaign but it would still represent a decent season for the two.
Fortunately, barring a catastrophe, the season won’t end now. It will take a short break for one of those irritating and needless international training sessions which have done nothing to assist England in winning anything for more than fifty years, but hey!… what do we know?
For Pep Guardiola there is still a remote chance of winning the Premier League. Chelsea just have to go on a losing run which compares in consistency to their winning run.
They are also due to play Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final and should, therefore, reach the final in that competition.
For José Mourinho the season could also get better. His team are favourites for the Europa League and certainly should beat Anderlecht over two legs. There are no teams to fear after that.
In the Premier League United could still overhaul Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal, all of whom are inconsistent and short of squad depth. This means that finishing third is not yet beyond them.
So a decent season can become a good one for both managers.
The fans, on the other hand, seem to have had rather overly optimistic expectations when the two managers were first appointed. City fans, in particular, treated Guardiola like the Messiah and even laughed off the loaning out of Joe Hart to Torino. Their laughter started to fade slightly after they had watched Claudio Bravo on a couple of occasions, but their faith in Pep never wavered.
Even the most die-hard City supporters must realise that, with some of the ageing, average players currently at the Etihad, City are not going to challenge for the major honours. The defence is shocking and only John Stones looks a real prospect with any longevity. The rest are dispensable and should be dispensed with, and replaced, as soon as possible. The only exception to this, based on whether he can regain fitness or not, should be Vincent Kompany.
The most die-hard United supporters must realise that, with a lack of goals costing them dearly, the team is also not going to be challenging for the major honours. Zlatan is, apparently, undecided as to whether or not his immediate future lies in Manchester next season. Either way, a goalscorer of some renown is required. The current defence has been performing quite well but a new one needs to be built around Eric Bailly as United may not be able to rely on David De Gea being their player of the season EVERY year, especially if he clears off to Real Madrid.
As expectations from both sets of fans level off to reasonable, rather than overblown, the season promises an interesting end for the two Manchester clubs. They still have much to play for and eyes cannot yet turn to next season.
In the Summer eyes CAN turn very much to next season and the upcoming transfer window which promises to be one of the best ever. Attempts will be made to ensure that both clubs are in a position to challenge for the major honours. Assuming that both are in the Champion’s League then there is no reason why they shouldn’t.