The first reason is that their manager Alex Ferguson will be more driven than ever to succeed this year. Winning the league is difficult retaining it is very difficult and regaining it harder still. Ferguson will be driven to show that for the umpteenth time, he has managed to construct a team capable of winning the league. This would ensconce him securely in the role of the greatest British Manager ever. It will also take United’s overall total to 19 titles – one more than their fierce rivals Liverpool and would be seen by Ferguson as the last step in knocking Liverpool off their “Fc$king perch” – his stated objective upon his arrival almost a quarter of a century ago.
The Second Reason is Wayne Rooney. For most of last season, he seemed like a force of nature – scoring goals at will and seemingly winning games on his own. Then came an injury against Bayern Munich and a subsequent abysmal World Cup campaign that has seen many question his abilities. He won’t take this lying down and I expect this season to be a personal crusade for him.
The third reason is that United’s rivals are not at a very high standard. Chelsea’s aging squad has not been refreshed and eventually time will take its toll. Similarly they have an over-reliance on the prolific Didier Drogba – not just for the goals he scores by the hatful, but also for inspiration. Should Drogba stop delivering for any reason, Chelsea’s challenge could falter. Manchester City have almost 10 new players – admittedly some of them are very good, but it will take time to blend their varied talents into a team and this season might likely be too soon for a realistic challenge.
In recent seasons Arsenal’s squad has been too lightweight and injury prone and nothing has taken place in the close season to address this. Old rivals Liverpool are a side undergoing major renovation – new manager, new players, potential new owners and new expectations that do not include a title challenge.
It is therefore my prediction that by May 2011 my beloved Manchester United will be back on the top of the pile – champions (yet) again!