Man. City money paying dividends

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:56 PM ET

The European domestic leagues and tournament competitions are solidly underway, giving us a more defined picture of which teams are terminators and which others are terminal.

The early season results are evidence of a cracker football season culminating in a World Cup in June.

It has become obvious in even such a short period of time that the English Premier League will not be a cakewalk for anyone.

The suspicion before the season began was that the Big Four of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea will have company in their chase for the title and nothing has happened to dissuade anyone of that fact.

It certainly is no surprise the Manchester City is disrupting the Big Four tea party. Their big-spending ways have borne fruit early in the season.

It's a good thing, too. A slow start would have sparked a feeding frenzy of questions and repercussion.

Instead, being perfect after four games has added an air of confidence to the Manchester City makeover, causing some discomfort in the red side of Manchester.

Manchester United skipper Alex Ferguson is heaping pressure on City claiming anything less than a title would be a failure.

"They've been a bit, how can I put it, cocky. Yes, a bit cocky. They've got seven centre forwards now, which is crazy, just amazing," Ferguson is quoted as saying.

"When you have spent that amount of money, and the wages they are paying, you have to win the league with that kind of investment. That's where the difficulty will come for them.

"It's going to be very difficult for them to win the league when you see ourselves, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal because they've got to beat the four of us at some point to get the league."

The red and blue side of Manchester will come together tomorrow with a much-anticipated derby match.

But it isn't only Man City that's crashed the Big Four party. Aston Villa and particularly Tottenham will prove worrisome if they continue their recent form.

Real Madrid is the side everyone is looking at in Europe and they have already been touted as the team to beat.

With the high-profile signings, Real will not only have to battle the best teams in the world, but also it will have to battle being under constant scrutiny.

Every game must provide a positive result. Ronaldo underwent criticism for his lacksadaisical form even during their exhibition tour when the games meant nothing.

Their biggest challenge will be surviving the dissection of every comment, every move, every performance made this year.

Real will be the real threat to English domination in Europe

Close behind is defending Champion League winners Barcelona. They aren't any stronger than last year even with the addition of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a legend in his own mind.

But their domination of Inter in Italy in the start to the Champions League speaks volumes about their readiness to defend their title.

It was men against boys and Barcelona attacked while Inter did what they could to survive.

It was a shockingly negative display of football for a team desperate to do something positive on the European scene.

Rest assured that Inter manager Jose Mourinho won't stay for another year of Inter crashes out yet again.

After witnessing Juventus disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Bordeaux -- the Italians were saved from the ultimate humiliation of losing by keeper Gianluigi Buffon -- the state of Italian club football promises little in terms of results in Europe again this season.

MORRIS.DALLACOSTA@SUNMEDIUA.CA


Videos

Photos