sport news MARTIN SAMUEL: It's nonsense to believe Manchester City will dominate for a ...

If Manchester City beat Chelsea on Saturday, they will win the 2020-21 Premier League. And maybe, to save time, we could give them the 2021-22 edition, too. It’s theirs already. Everyone says so.

Just as this one, that City are winning, was going to be Liverpool’s; and Liverpool’s was going to be Manchester City’s third in a row.

It’s the hardy annual of English football. Watch a good team claim the title and then announce they will rule for the next decade. Except that the recent history of this league suggests nothing of the sort.

Manchester City are on the brink of another title, but history suggests this is not long-term

Manchester City are on the brink of another title, but history suggests this is not long-term

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When City retained the trophy in 2019, they were the first to do so since in 2009. We have to rewind to the 1960s to find a decade in English football with fewer title retentions than this one.

And yet conventional wisdom dictated that every champion was set fair to dominate, from the Chelsea sides of Jose Mourinho and , to Pep Guardiola’s City and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

We forget how precariously this season was balanced, how many league leaders there were in the first half of the campaign, the incredible misfortune that befell one club in particular.

So City are untouchable, yes? Take Ruben Dias out. Then Aymeric Laporte. And John Stones. Promote Kyle Walker or Fernandinho as makeshift central defenders. Then remove them, too. They still rise above this? Because Liverpool couldn’t. And what of Chelsea?

After surging to the title in the manner they did, many people tipped Liverpool dominance

After surging to the title in the manner they did, many people tipped Liverpool dominance

Guardiola may avenge the FA Cup semi-final this Saturday, but so far he has had one crack at beating them under and failed.

Klopp, Carlo Ancelotti, Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Diego Simeone and Zinedine Zidane have also tried his Chelsea team this season and, to here, nothing. It might be that Chelsea are quite useful. Kai Havertz looks better every game. It turns out Petr Cech knows a goalkeeper given Edouard Mendy’s recent displays.

The idea that, not just this campaign but the next too, is already over seems fanciful.

Between November 21 and December 15, City drew three and lost one of eight games. They failed to beat Tottenham, Porto, and West Bromwich.

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It is this run, and those final points dropped against relegation certainties, that Guardiola credits with transforming the season.

Chelsea are several years without a title though have been investing heavily and often since

Chelsea are several years without a title though have been investing heavily and often since

Yet it shows City are as vulnerable to a loss of confidence or form as any team. What has followed since has been sensational.

But next year, too? For sure? Come on. Nobody even knows where Erling Haaland and Harry Kane end up, or if they move at all. Nobody knows about Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani or what Chelsea’s summer signings will look like with a year of experience in the English game.

Nobody knows about Jadon Sancho, except that he won’t be going to City.

Nobody knows how Klopp plans to rejuvenate Liverpool. And, of course, there are permutations that could only enhance City’s status.

So much remains up in the air, like how Jurgen Klopp plans to rejuvenate Liverpool next year

So much remains up in the air, like how Jurgen Klopp plans to rejuvenate Liverpool next year

What if Haaland was the alternative to the false nine? Yes, but what if he was the alternative to Timo Werner, and Guardiola persevered with midfielders as strikers? Do we presume that nobody, again, will handle it? Tuchel found a way. And this is before we factor in the wild cards.

Clubs like Leicester who, increasingly, have the capacity to surprise.

It is City’s title this year, and maybe very soon, but from there it’s in the balance. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

This isn’t Germany, as much as some would like it to be.

How the Glazers lousy reign has been good for the game

This was not a widely-held view in the environs of Old Trafford on Sunday, but it could be argued that the Glazers have been rather good for English football.

Not at first, obviously.

Between the 2005 takeover and the 2013 departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, the club won five league titles and the Champions League, and the status quo prevailed.

The much-maligned Glazer family have failed to get the fans onboard since buying the club

The much-maligned Glazer family have failed to get the fans onboard since buying the club

Yet since then, the utter mess that has been made of the Ferguson succession by the owners and their executives has allowed Manchester City to rise, the resurgence of Chelsea under several managers, Liverpool’s first title of the modern era, and of course the greatest triumph of them all, by Leicester.

won 61.9 per cent of Premier League titles under Ferguson; and precisely zero since he left.

This has helped make England’s top division the best and most open in Europe. The way football has evolved in the Glazers’ time, there was a genuine chance that could have been as dominant in the English game as Bayern Munich and Juventus became in Germany and .

Instead, the club has burned through £719m in the transfer market failing to make it so.

The Glazers may have sought a closed shop, but the irony is that their stewardship has created anything but.

This is the downside of strict regulation. The biggest clubs must retain the right to be lousy decision-makers, because that brings change.

United initially joining the European Super League has led to a wave of fans calling for change

United initially joining the European Super League has led to a wave of fans calling for change

United's failings starting to bite 

’s shirt sales have fallen by 100,000 since 2019. In that time, their numbers have also been overtaken by Liverpool. 

It means that the deal with Adidas, worth £79million in 2018, is now only accruing £77.8m. 

is not a huge drop, and Adidas deny their disappointment in United’s commercial performance was behind the departure of Ed Woodward, yet it demonstrates the fickleness of the foreign markets, where supporters can switch allegiances as fortunes fluctuate. 

They’ll go with the winners, and United haven’t been that for too long.

It is beginning to hurt.

What are we fighting for?

While English football was taking to the streets in fury, in #CeferinOut has been trending in protest at the UEFA chief who helped block the Super League.

Negative reaction in Spain has been muted, too.

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