Now I guess I’m a half full fan..the sort of fan that mixes all the joys of supporting Manchester United with all the fears that the common football fan possess as well. When will our time be up? When will we be ‘doing a Liverpool’?? It worries me…and that’s just because….IT DOES (and for no other reason)
So what’s there to worry about this season?
Top of the league. Progressing so far so good in Europe. Last 8 of the cup. Beaten only once in the league. Chelsea imploding. Liverpool as comical as ever. Does it get any BETTER?
Yet I cannot help but feel as a club we are sort of standing on the edge of a cliff….staring out into some kind of potential oblivion. This has nothing to do with the Glazers. And it has everything to do with how we’ve performed on the pitch. We are struggling away from Old Trafford like nothing I have seen for years. A trip to Wolves becomes a traumatic experience! And it is repeating itself. Over and over.
United fans like myself have been spoiled for years. And with all the riches that have been brought to us comes a sort of comfy, warm feeling…that only success can generate. That heady, dreamy state can be a beautiful thing…except if you are driving a car on the motorway at 80 mph! And that is the sort of metaphoric place we are at in the present. I always look at the team as a jigsaw. And at the moment I can see that despite having all of the pieces, that many ‘bits’ have fallen off the edges..that they don’t all sit all perfectly together as they once did.
Now I’m always one to profess to ‘support the team’ and to ‘trust the manager’…and all of that I do indeed practice with every MUFC game I go to. But I’ve developed a fear that I’ve not encountered for some time. As we watch the financial might of City strengthen at will, see Chelsea go blow fifty million on an out of form, yet with obvious talent, Spaniard. Witness Liverpool take huge strides forward in their strategies, …..and maybe..just maybe..watch Arsenal finally mature out of their kindergarten..It all feels like in comparison that we are standing……..still.
Personally I think Chicharito and Smalling are brilliant additions to the squad, and all at the cost of barely an Andy Carroll arm and leg. It’s how Fergie does things. But when you watch the side this year it’s clearly apparent that if there is nothing wrong with the squad..that indeed something isn’t RIGHT. Carrick and Fletcher have gone off the boil. Giggs and Scholes will eventually follow Nev. Michael Owen and Owen Hargreaves cant get on the pitch. Kiko not ready for the first team. Darren Gibson’s constant castigation from United fans. The list goes on and on and on. And this is in a season where we haven’t suffered an injury crisis as we previously have at times! It’s like having lots of little itches, as opposed to a full on rash.
Now the three good things that have kept us ‘going’ are as follows:
1: Edwin Van Der Sar
2: The centrebacks
3: Berbatovs form
These three things above have been the backbone. But it still feels fragile at the minute. Edwin is nearly cooked. Rio gets injured (or rested or whatnot) at the drop of a hat. Berba can still frustrate at times. Lets face it. If Nani didn’t have the assists and goals to his credit this season we would be far off the top.
It’s these things of singularity that worry me. Take one out and you suddenly have a massive hole. That’s the same for all clubs I guess, but the fact that it’s the common perception that United are still in second gear in February sort of says it all. Yes United get stuck in this time of year after being slow starters, but my God! The start was forever ago!!… But we’ve always had the artillery to do it previously. Will Valencia be enough to push us on? Or will that be cancelled out by Anderson’s 8 week lay off? We’re at a time of the season where even if you just lose a couple of matches, or if you play poorly 3 or 4 more times, that there is ZERO time to rectify and come back. Normally a points cushion like we currently have would have me cockahoop. But at the moment all I can do is look over my shoulder. We’re in Arsenal’s headlights. It feels like they have that extra gear that maybe we do not. Fabregas, Walcott, Van Persie, Arshavin, Nasri et al. All players of flair. If we had just one of them we walk the league. Yes their defence is nowhere near as good as ours, but I get the feeling it will be scoring goals that wins the league this year, and not necessarily clean sheets en mass. Flair may well prevail this season.
So in many ways that leads us back to one player. One individual. Yes that’d be the one that scored that overhead kick the other day.
If Rooney can truly produce anywhere near his best, to support the small successes of this current season, then we all know we will go very very close. I hate it how we are still relying so heavily on two veteran legends. They should be the cherries on the top. Not the be all and end all. Without Giggs in recent weeks we would have dropped more points, and sometimes it feels that Scholes is the only person capable of bossing our central midfield..and this is a player who is firmly looking forward to getting his slippers out to go watch Oldham every week with the kids. It’s so unfair on them. But it’s necessary as it stands.
For once I honestly don’t know if United really have enough in the tank. I think we will learn alot over the Marseille tie. There is no doubt that we need to bring in a ‘marquee’ player..if only to take the expectation off Rooney’s shoulders. There’s plenty of them out there that we could get at a good fee. Im not talking about a Kaka or the like. I think Suarez was a very clever purchase by Liverpool..and cheap at the going rate. A Sanchez or a Hamsik, or even a Modric (Van Der Vaart is the miss of the decade for us) would bring so much to the table for United. But of course that’s all for the near future. The next few months will be like dancing on thin ice, right in the middle of a frozen lake. If we fall in…then drowning is the only possible outcome. With a midfield that lacks creation like ours does we have to question when pure grit and determination will not be enough.
Lets pray that our defence stays fit and does the business. And that Dimitar Berbatov wants to be the hero we all know he can be.
Fingers and toes…are….crossed.
The run in starts now.