Manchester United are just an expensive Stoke City, Mourinho is no better than LVG, United parked the bus at Anfield….. The list goes on and all I’ve got to say to the above is let the haters hate.
In fact, let’s welcome it. Because in reality all that’s happening is a futile attempt to deflect scrutiny of the haters own failings. In the case of Liverpool, that they’ve been exposed as a side lacking imagination and creativity when a side doesn’t give them the space to do what they want. For the press, that their determined effort to undermine our manager and champion the new boys of Pep, Klopp and Conte isn’t gathering pace. And for other rivals it’s plain old fear. Fear that United are within touching distance of every single one of them despite a mediocre start to the season.
What did I think of the Liverpool game? It was a bit like foreplay. There were really positive parts and there were things we could have done better. But it will all be for nothing if we don’t progress south – against Chelsea.
So does that mean the Chelsea game is a must win? I think it’s unfair to put that pressure on a United side that has a pretty horrific record at Stamford Bridge – only two wins in the last sixteen games. Add in to that the media meltdown and hype around Jose’s return and common sense would suggest this isn’t a game Chelsea can afford to lose. But it’s a game United really could do with winning.
Another point and another battling performance with plenty of heart and commitment wouldn’t be a terrible outcome. However, with Arsenal and City both having very winnable home fixtures this weekend even a well earnt point at Stamford Bridge will see us drift to seven points behind the leaders – not an insurmountable amount but still a healthy gap for two major rivals to have at this time of the season.
Without question four points from Liverpool and Chelsea is exactly what United should be targeting if they want to get back amongst the title challengers. Some might say it’s a big ask from arguably our two hardest fixtures of the season but the way the seasons gone so far we need that sort of boost. Two draws whilst not a disaster, isn’t quite enough, especially after the costly two points we let slip at home to Stoke. But football is an odd mistress and there’s a world of difference between another ground out nil nil draw and a six goal thriller where both sides share the points. So to totally dismiss a draw against Chelsea at this stage would be unfair when it very much depends on the circumstances come six o’clock on Sunday evening.
The positive is that I’m sure Jose Mourinho will go with the intention of taking all three points from his old employers. He’s got more than one point to prove to Chelsea and if he can pull it off it would be the perfect catalyst to kick on and have a great season.
What we mustn’t do is lose.
By Mark Goldbridge