A recent BBC poll – one of many – asked a question that many would think redundant. It wasn’t the first time and certainly won’t be the last – to prove my point, a poll recently after this was to decide which pairing was best – Yorke and Cole or Bergkamp and Henry…
The poll in question however, mused on which team was the best in the PL era.
There have been a few.
Chelsea’s title-winning team of 05/07 under Jose’s first spell was a beast of a team, and their defensive record still stands.
Our own Double-winning team of 97/98 were included, the perfect blend of rough with smooth.
Then there were the main contenders.
The United Treble-winning team of 99.
City’s winning outfit last season, the first to 100 points.
And The Invincibles.
Putting aside my fierce and indignant bias, let us look at the numbers.
Firstly, if we are deciding which club had the best Premier League side, then external achievements need to be cast aside. So, United’s famous CL win cannot affect this judgement.
Fergie’s winning team won the league by a solitary point from Arsenal that year. This doesn’t scream out unparallelled quality, it shows that they had a team that was its near equal.
What of City’s steamrollering team of last year?
The first to reach 100 points, 106 goals scored and 27 conceded, 32 wins from 38 – only six games where they failed to get the win.
Truly frightening statistics.
What of The Invincibles?
Well, 12 draws means 12 games where we failed to win – double that of Guardiola’s side.
Seventy three goals scored, 26 conceded, a goal difference of plus 47.
The only stat we can boast that is superior is our defence.
Aside from one small factor – the losses column.
What weight does that zero carry? Is it heavier than the avalanche of goals City scored? Is it worth more than that and the paltry six games they failed to win? We went 49 games without defeat – still a record.
To decide which team trumps the other is fiendishly difficult, but the Gunners are still the only side to go through a campaign unbeaten – and the only recipients of a gold League trophy.
When City were putting teams to the sword last season, the world and his dog were predicting that Guardiola would oversee an unbeaten season. The matches ticked down and no team looked likely to beat them, but beaten they were.
City achieving what they did was miraculous, and they did so in an arguably more difficult league, but they couldn’t manage a loss-less season.
Will this poll settle the argument? No. But ask yourself this;
If any other set of fans had an unbeaten season in their recent history, would they let us forget it? Would they admit that other teams were better? Not a chance.
Our Invincibles side, no matter what objective view is aired, will always be the barometer that all amazing sides need to match up to.
From back to front, we were packed with talent and did the unthinkable with a smaller squad than City, and with just as much swagger, if not more.
Yet it wasn’t our Invincibles side that won the poll, nor was it City’s squad of last season.
United’s Treble-winners won the poll.
Ignore the poll, we know the answer.