What defines success has – thanks to Sir Alex Ferguson – always been slightly different for United fans over the last few decades. On paper, the team has made some progress under Jose Mourinho, moving from sixth to second in the league table and, arguably, at times, providing a higher standard of entertainment than under David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal.
At the time of writing, Ferguson is lying in a hospital bed after going through surgery on a brain haemorrhage. While everyone in football will be wishing the great man a speedy recovery, it is also interesting to consider what Ferguson would be thinking about the United team now. If still in charge, he would, of course, already be plotting and scheming on how to topple Manchester City next season.
City odds-on to retain the title next season
It is certain that the current manager is doing the same, but plenty believe that the gap between Guardiola’s City and the rest of the ‘Big 6’ will remain until the end of next season at least. Indeed, the latest bookmakers’ odds for the 2019 season sees City as huge favourites to retain the title. They are priced around 4/6 with most bookies, as low as 8/13 with Betfred. Those kinds of odds are usually reserved for the likes of Bayern Munich and PSG in ‘one team leagues’.
Somewhat surprisingly, United are not even second-favourites for the title next season with most bookmakers. That privilege goes to Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s men, buoyed by their run to the Champions League Final, have been placed at odds of 5/1 (Betfair) to break their 28-year duck on winning a league title.
United’s odds will tempt value-hunting punters
United have been put through as 13/2 third-favourites with Betfair. That’s quite a tempting price at this stage, certainly considering the fact that Mourinho will almost be guaranteed a big purse to spend in the summer. You can also check the latest sports free bets to back United and make those odds look a little sweeter. Incidentally, Betfair rate the rest of the Big 6 as: Chelsea 11/1, Tottenham 12/1 and Arsenal 30/1.
The question then for United fans is – have the bookies got it wrong? It could be argued that United have shown massive improvement in recent months, defeating City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs in 2018. Those victories finally saw Mourinho shorn of the hoodoo of bottling it in the big matches during his most recent stint in England.
Sevilla result hurt United fans the most
However, there have been signs that should still make United fans worry: the defeat against Sevilla in the Champions League. Poor results and performances against Huddersfield, Brighton and West Brom. The main problem there was that United did not deserve to take anything from those games. Indeed, those matches left Mourinho hinting at a summer clear-out.
Still, Mourinho and the board should zero in on a couple of signings over the summer and perhaps enough quality will be added to make the team click on a more consistent basis throughout the 2019 season. If so, those 13/2 odds might look like a big mistake from the bookmakers. One thing is for sure though, if the legendary figure recovering in a Manchester hospital was still in charge at Old Trafford, the bookmakers and Pep Guardiola would be a lot less confident about City’s chances of keeping United at bay next season.