The rise of Mourinho and the fall of United

Former Premier League player admits to fixing matchesNormally, I’m pretty adept at keeping track on what’s going on in the sports world from my still fluffy albeit a little tattered couch. That, in some ways, is what being a sports nut entails.

But over the past few months, I’ve to admit that I haven’t paid much attention to one of the sports leagues that I usually divvy a lot of time to. So for that, my sincerest apologies to the English Premier League. I’ve temporarily forsaken you in the name of the NFL, which is insulting enough on its own given the combative stances both of you have taken in putting your own definition to the word ‘football’.

So I hope you take this apology with the knowledge that in the last one-third of the season, I will have your full attention, down to the last injury time that could decide the EPL title this year.

I see that you’ve had quite the upheaval this year. Chelsea’s at the top of the league table. I honestly didn’t see that coming. Neither did I ever think Arsenal would be just a point behind it and Manchester City another point off in third place. Quite a competitive last trimester we have here, huh?

Oddsmakers say Chelsea’s got the best shot to win the EPL this year at 5/4 odds, a dramatic turn of events two years after finishing in 6th place. Very impressive work, Jose Mourinho. City’s currently in third place but books are still bullish on the team to win the league this year at 6/4 odds.

And then there’s Liverpool, long forgotten as a powerhouse and relegated to being treated as preening pretenders. And yet, there they are, sitting in fourth place with arguably the most dynamic scoring tandem in the league now. 12/1 odds for these guys to make a late run? Sounds like a promising deal given how they manhandled Arsenal over the weekend.

All four teams have been the class of the league so far this year, yet one team seems to have been left off the center stage. Chels…Man Cit…Arsen…Liverp…where the hell is Manchester United?

Oh, shit. There they are, languishing in seventh place, four points behind Everton and nine points behind Liverpool for that final Champions League berth. Last I checked, United are the defending champions, yet they’re sitting at 250/1 odds to defend their crown.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. It’s bad enough that their cross-town rivals are one of the favorites to win the EPL crown, but they’re looking up from the very same team manager David Moyes used to be a part of. Is this karmic retribution for trying to fleece Everton of its talents all these years?

Maybe the Curse of Fellaini will become one of those narratives that stretch generations. Who knows, really. But what everyone knows is that United have about as little a shot to make it to the Top 4 as it has qualifying for next year’s Champions League. The freakin’ Europa League might even be a pipe dream given how Tottenham and Everton are playing.

So this is what greets me in my return to the English Premier League. The status quo has been flipped and the usual script thrown out the gutter like one of Moyes’ playbooks. It’s looking like a four-horse race among Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City, and Liverpool for the title with the current champs, gassing and panting in the name of relevancy.

There are 13 matches left, and the league is setting up for quite a dramatic finish. Here we go.