Manchester United Title Contenders?
Another week and another fantastic three points for Manchester United. Southampton away was never going to be an easy game and whilst a couple of Jonny Evan’s style – I’ll come back to him later – mishaps in their defence gifted us a couple of goals we shouldn’t underestimate United’s role in the victory. The excellent 45 pass move that led to the third goal, the recovery from a physically and mentally sapping defeat to PSV just a few days earlier, and the fact that like every other side in the Premier League – when Manchester United come to town it’s that clubs cup final. Teams suddenly start playing like they’ll all be executed by firing squad at the final whistle if they don’t win but that’s the price you pay for being the biggest club in the world.
So a great three points last weekend and with the win against Liverpool, and Sunderland to come this weekend, we should be looking at a very strong return of nine points from our last three games. Add in to that the Pereira inspired three nil win against Ipswich last night and things are definitely looking up for United. Just think, if we’d taken the two points we dropped at home to Newcastle we’d be top! Not to mention the three points Romero literally threw away at Swansea.
Like Anderson at an all you can eat buffet, we shouldn’t be greedy though. I love the way Van Gaal has cleared the dead wood from the squad and focussed on youth and the future but to start expecting a title challenge is a bit premature. United are a work in progress and whilst we’re definitely on the right road there will be potholes along the way. Our October fixture list and defensive issues being two potential bumps we need to avoid.
I mentioned Jonny Evans at the start and it’s ironic that some United fans are now unhappy we sold him. Calamity Jones – please note I use this term not because he’s a bad defender but because he’s accident prone – Rojo and McNair are currently suffering with injuries. I’m fully aware that Jones is nearly back to full fitness but give him a couple of weeks and he’ll trip over a paperclip and be out for six months with the flu. Which leaves us with Smalling and Blind. It’s far from ideal and many said at the start of the summer that a centre back was a priority if only because of all the injury problems we’ve suffered in that position over the last few years. We didn’t sign anyone and now our whole season depends on the fitness of Smalling and Blind.
Would I want Evans back though? No. I’d rather paint a number five on the back of a back of cement and stick that beside Chris Smalling than bring Evans back. But I do agree we’ve taken a huge risk leaving ourselves light in a position we’ve always had injury problems with.
On a positive note the attack seems to have solved it’s problems just at the moment the defence is starting to crumble. Martial looks deadlier than a fox in a chicken coup, Memphis is gradually finding his feet and Pereira, finally, has been given the chance to show he’s ready to be part of the first team setup. Yes, Fellaini is a concern and Rooney is still consistently stuck between average and inept. But who cares? The young boys are ready. They’re banging on the first team door and Van Gaal cannot ignore them.
So let’s enjoy this ride as long as it lasts. If we can get through October within a couple of points of the leaders and our defence in tact then who knows what we can achieve this season? January offers us the opportunity to buy a defender and Memphis, Martial and Pereira are climbing the mountain when it comes to their career – ie they’re only going to get better. If they feel like pushing Fellaini down it on their way up that might help too….
I’ll be back with my weekly blog next week. In the meantime don’t forget to take a look at our NEW Fancam idea and get involved in have YOUR say
By Mark Goldbridge