Saturday, August 31, 2013

2 huge rivalries, 2 lengthy disparities

Spurs and Liverpool are two famous clubs with history laiden with silverware and famous names such as Glenn Hoddle, Jimmy Greaves, Paul Gascgoine, Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush and Kevin Keegan. Both also still enjoy huge worldwide support.

Both clubs however have fallen on harder times since the inception of the Premiership and the rise of other clubs around them. Whilst Spurs had flattered to deceive for a long time and oft been referred to as a 'cup team' only, Liverpool have long been supplanted by ManU as the dominant force domestically.

Both teams however have suffered equally in comparison with their fiercest of rivals. The rivalry between Liverpool and ManU bares comparison with that of Real and Barca in terms of intensity and the relative success of the clubs involved. The North London rivalry is more parochial possibly but no less intense.

Liverpool in reality have not been a force in the Premiership for some time now with only occasional credible title challenges in the past twenty or so years. Ferguson's famously commented about 'knocking Liverpool off their perch' but few would have thought that it would have been so prophetic and that the dominance would have lasted so long.

Whilst ManU have embraced the new financial age completing the building of the now enormous Old Trafford and taking merchandising and branding to another level, Liverpool have stagnated with an inadequate and antiquated stadium meaning that their income bears no resemblance to that of their fierce rivals from along the M62.

That current disparity looks impossible to bridge right now and Liverpool's team in the absence of great home grown talent such as Carragher, Owen, Fowler, McManaman and the ageing Gerrard will find it tough to compete in the medium to long term given the financial handicap.

All of that being said, Liverpool finally appear to be attempting a concerted change in philosophy and to be embracing the long term plans of Brendan Rodgers who has the appearance of a man in for the long haul - which is exactly what they need.

At the same time as Liverpool attempt to right the many wrongs inflicted by the previous regime, ManU have of course lost Sir Alex Ferguson, the primary driver for their two decades of colossal success. Davie Moyes appears to be a chip off the old block but they are big shoes to fill and he is relatively inexperienced at the very highest level.

Whilst the gulf between the clubs still looks huge, there are suspicions that the dominance of ManU could finally be coming to an end with the retirement of Ferguson. Nothing lasts forever after all.

Whilst Liverpool will not challenge for the title for possibly a few seasons still, a return to the Champions League is a priority to give them the financial spring board they so badly require. An early season win against their biggest rivals to build on their early bright start would be a huge fillip for the Koppites whilst putting some doubt in Moyes' mind about his tactics in the big games.

For Spurs, it has been the same story since Bruce Rioch departed Arsenal, that of looking up - far more closely in the past few seasons - at Arsenal. Arsenal like ManU have built a huge amphitheatre to play in with bulging match day revenues whilst Spurs struggle to get by with the hopelessly redundant White Hart Lane.

Arsenal however have long since departed from their position as the credible and regular challenger to ManU. Whether it be the cost of building the Emirates, the departure of David Dein or the stubbornness of Arsene Wenger, Arsenal's intransigence in the transfer market has seen them go backwards with them almost becoming a 'feeder club' to the very highest echelon.

Whilst Wenger carries on apparently listening to no one, Spurs have taken several steps forward with the country's most impressive chairman in Daniel Levy and a hugely bright manager in Andre Villas Boas.

The loss of Gareth Bale may look a backward step but the stratospheric price they look set to achieve has allowed them to strengthen all areas of the team rather than relying on the sometimes injury prone Bale.

Spurs have gone horribly close to Champions League qualification the past two seasons and whilst they will feel hard done by, the blame lies with themselves with their almost pathological obsession with Arsenal seeing them fail to finish above them despite being offered an open door to do so two seasons in a row.

Two seasons ago, Spurs would point to Chelsea's unlikely CL victory but Spurs imploded against Arsenal to fail to finish above them yet again when third place was there for the taking. Luck had little to do with it which Levy realised and subsequently jettisoned the hugely overrated Harry Redknapp.

Whilst they again came up short last season, AVB suffers no ghosts and demons regarding Arsenal and has a team full of new players similarly without a haunted past.

The bigger gap in the relative teams appeared to be between United and Liverpool but Liverpool are of course at home where they love to play them. They are however without Luis Suarez. It is unlikely that Moyes will be as positive in his first Anfield fixture as ManU boss as Ferguson was traditionally so we'll go for the draw.

Spurs take the short journey to the Emirates and certainly have their tails up. Arsenal have fought back after their opening day debacle against Villa but are shorn of many players through injury. We still however take them to win at home. Both should be cracking games with the prospect of goals in both matches - No Nonsense.