Blame Mourinho and Co. for EPL's one-horse race
The chasing pack's defeatist mentality gives leaders City an easier time
If football is nothing without fans, it's even less so with all sense of competitiveness removed.
Try telling that to the legions of white-flag wavers on Manchester City's English Premier League title procession.
Newcastle United became the latest to roll over yesterday morning (Singapore time) in a 1-0 defeat without even troubling Pep Guardiola's side who have moved 15 points clear at the top before the New Year.
The Citizens are running away with this season's crown, not only due to a quality-laden squad, but also because of a helping hand from the rest.
Over the past month, the EPL's big-hitters have willingly retreated into defeatism en masse.
Jose Mourinho insists Manchester United's £300 million (S$539m) expenditure is "not enough" to challenge City; Juergen Klopp has set his sights on Liverpool being "the best of the rest", while Mauricio Pochettino has given hope of Tottenham hunting them down in November.
So much for "To dare is to do".
Across north London, however, Arsene Wenger is no better; questioning the futility of attempting to stop the seemingly unbeatable.
Only Antonio Conte was prepared to speak up for the EPL's not-so-little guys, urging them to stand up to City in the transfer market, particularly in their pursuit of Virgil van Dijk.
Someone at Anfield clearly listened in sanctioning the Southampton defender's £75m signing this week.
But open defiance to Guardiola's charges must take place on the pitch too.
Juggernauts are there to be challenged, as Mourinho has conveniently forgotten of late.
With and without him, Chelsea set the ultimate example in ending United and Arsenal's periods of superiority.
No one supposedly could stop the "Invincibles" of 2003/04, or a Red Devils team that had lifted three successive titles from 2007 to 2009.
The Londoners toppled both and ended Manchester's collective four-season hold on the EPL's summit when Mourinho wrested the crown from City's hands in 2014/15.
He has also bested Guardiola in the domestic stakes before, when Real Madrid did not simply bow down to Barcelona, who had won back-to-back La Liga titles from 2009 to 2011.
Before that, his Inter Milan side stunned the Catalans in the Champions League semi-finals.
The rest of Europe's top-five leagues contain further proof why the status quo must always be challenged.
Bayern Munich have not always had things their own way, as Borussia Dortmund, Wolfsburg and Stuttgart can attest from a cursory glance at the Bundesliga's recent honour roll.
AS Monaco, similarly, did not concede defeat when Paris Saint-Germain won Ligue 1 from 2013 to 2016. Neither did Bordeaux, Marseille, Lille and Montpellier before them.
In Italy, AC Milan were able to break the cycle in between Inter and Juventus' periods of power.
Greater financial muscle and seemingly unlimited firepower elsewhere proved little deterrent to Leicester City in their unlikely march to the EPL title over two seasons ago.
Those same rules applied when the title regularly transited between Old Trafford and the English capital's various clubs - yet the current chasing pack continue to gaze longingly at Guardiola's well-heeled side and convince themselves that the leaders will never be overthrown.
The City manager is not, contrary to claims, the reason the EPL has seen itself derided as a "joke league".
That dishonour belongs to those who are refusing to take the fight to him.