United making progress despite apparent crisis
It’s always said that a team winning games without playing at its best is a team to be wary of, and Manchester United certainly find themselves within that category at this present moment in time.
October 6th, 2014
It was a cliché created during United’s golden years under Sir Alex Ferguson, while United continually defied the odds by winning games they had no right to win and titles they had no right to run away with.
‘Winning scruffy’ was one of the many characteristics missing from United’s armoury last season but it appears Louis Van Gaal is beginning to reinstall the ability to win games which could arguably go either way.
If the abundant voices of ABUs are to be believed, United are a team in crisis. Crisis because they’re not winning every game, crisis because they’re not winning games by big margins, crisis because their defence is leaky and unsure, crisis because they’ve dropped points to Leicester City, Burnley, Sunderland and Swansea City during a run of games which saw United deal with a raft of injuries, whilst also integrating new faces to a team in desperate need of a kick-start – not to mention the brave introduction of some untried, untested youth players.
Yesterday’s defeat of Everton gave Louis Van Gaal his first set of back-to-back wins as United manager and, more importantly, catapulted United into the top four for the first time in over twelve months, a mere three points behind arch enemies City and yet a point better off than those lovable chaps (whose year it was meant to be again) from down the East Lancs’. That familiar sound of the ABUs is fading fast into the distance, I hope they enjoyed it while it lasted because United find themselves in fourth spot whilst ‘not playing at their best’ and ‘being in crisis’.
Yes, it appears Chelsea will take this season’s title at a canter, but I don’t take that view for a second. Many a team have got off to a flyer only to wane after Christmas. Experience dictates that nothing is decided after only seven games regardless of results or form – this season will be no different – and if Van Gaal can implement his philosophy quickly whilst still finding results along the way, there’s no reason they couldn’t be defying the odds again come May, especially given the pending returns of injured parties, developing youngsters and potential January additions as and when they happen. As always, a lot will depend on results versus the usual suspects, so all eyes will be on the 26th of this month as United take on Chelsea at Old Trafford with almost nothing to lose but everything to gain.
Before yesterday, Everton had won three out of the last four meetings between the two clubs so should perceivably have arrived full of confidence, yet they stood off United for long periods of the match allowing Daley Blind to control the pace and direction of the game whilst the creative players in front of him penetrated the gaps and created the chances. The masses of ABU media pundits have been only too keen recently to point out that teams no longer ‘fear’ Manchester United or Old Trafford. Every team is apparently relishing the opportunity to kick United while they’re down and in most cases achieving it; much to the liking of said pundits! Well, it’s evident from Everton’s trip to The Theatre of Dreams that United are in the ascendancy and the fear factor may well be returning as teams sit back to deal with United’s increasingly potent artillery, thus relieving some of the pressure put upon its inexperienced defence.
Any team boasting match-winning individuals such as Falcao, Van Persie, Mata, Di Maria and Rooney has more than just a slight chance of reaching the top assuming it can get it right at the back and, despite only grabbing all three points thanks to a fantastic display of acrobatics from keeper De Gea, the signs of progress are beginning to appear.