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By Daniel Finch
As the lights dimmed at the Dw and Riverside Stadiums, supporters of their respective Premier League clubs found themselves sharing a similar sentiment despite disparate outcomes. Both Manchester United and Chelsea once again failed to garner favor from their fans. United, despite securing victory, displayed their trademark dullness and lack of creativity, relying on a contentious penalty to overcome League 1 side Wigan.
Chelsea, on the other hand, fared even worse, exhibiting wastefulness and vulnerability to counterattacks, a recurrent issue attributed to the leadership vacuum stemming from owner Todd Boehly’s failure to establish a clear identity.
A closer examination of the two clubs reveals that they face analogous predicaments for distinct reasons. Chelsea’s struggle arises from a lack of identity imposed by Boehly, while United grapples with the undue influence of a core group of players who seemingly dictate proceedings, leaving managers unsuccessful in managing the collective. The absence of leaders within the squads impedes the formation of a cohesive starting XI.
Contrasting the past glory of solid Chelsea teams with leaders in key positions, the current reliance on the 41-year-old Thiago Silva underscores the dearth of impactful leaders. The return of Christopher Nkunku from injury holds promise for stability upfront, a quality sorely missed since the days of Drogba’s Champions League triumphs.
Cole Palmer, despite a challenging performance at Riverside, shows potential as a solid signing and a prospective “Lampard” for the group. However, the pressing question remains: Who will step up in defense to emulate the fearless leadership of John Terry?
While Levi Colwill’s loan spell at Brighton last season was commendable, moments of unease and positional lapses persist. The emergence of Trevor Chalobah, who exhibited promise early last season, could offer a solution.
Expressing concern over potential summer spending sprees hindering squad cohesion, the hope is that Chelsea retains patience with manager Pochettino, given his proven track record and a pool of potentially “world-class” talents.
On the flip side, Manchester United, grappling since the departure of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, faces perennial challenges. Annual exorbitant signings attempt to integrate into a core that appears decayed. Rather than focusing on managerial changes, it might be time for United to part ways with underperforming players and usher in a younger, more creative generation without overspending.
Contrasting with the club’s historic reliance on homegrown talent like the Class of ’92, United should consider appointing Erik Ten Haag in the summer transfer window to rejuvenate the squad and establish a young core capable of cohesive development.
The overall impact of the downfall of these two top clubs contributes to the parity in the Premier League, appealing to impartial supporters. However, the league thrives when these giants are at their best. The hope is that the respective owners recognize their missteps and actively work to restore these clubs to their coveted positions in the top 4.