It’s fair to say that recent results have highlighted in the media, and the public forum, what many United fan has secretly known for a number of months now: that United have been, at best, average. There maybe a few Reds who now jump to the defence of the team, and in no way is this a negative view on them…more a reality check.
The results against Crawley, in Marseille, and at Chelsea underlined that we’ve become somewhat an outfit of function long shorn of great attacking talent, in the case of Ronaldo, and dare I say it, Tevez. We’ve laboured more than blown away, won games without stepping into second gear nevermind fourth or fifth.
The Rooney saga has undoubtedly had an effect, on the player, the team and the fans. A player who looked seemingly unstoppable last season has often looked off the pace and his mind anywhere but where it should be. There have certainly been high points in the season. Beating City, Liverpool and Arsenal at OT and of course the hammerings dished out to Blackburn and Birmingham. But even in those games we didn’t look 100% convincing. Take those against low points at Everton, Fulham, Villa, and Wolves, and at OT against West Brom. The Everton game in particular was a disappointment. As well as Everton did to get a result in that situation, no team looking at winning the league should be 3-1 up in stoppage time and not hold out for the win.
If we win the record breaking 19th title I’ve no doubt there’ll be unreserved celebrations…especially surpassing the long stood record that the scousers were so proud of. But could this United team be the most avaerage team to win the league? The best of a bad bunch? Certainly the general consensus amongst most reds I’ve spoken to on the terraces, both home and away, seems to be that we can’t quite believe we’re top. And with points to spare. And went unbeaten for so long. To think that we’re in contention for a Treble sends shudders down the spine of every United fan.
I hope that the Chelsea game doesn’t turn out to be our “Bayern Away” of last season. The game when everything suddenly seemed to crumble. We go into a massive game against the scousers without Vidic (who in my opinion has been immense this season), a game Liverpool will no doubt raise themselves for as beating United on Sunday would probably be the highlight of their season, and one that United can ill afford not to win. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
Whatever happens this season, there are some positives to be taken from this season. Berbatov finally showing the class we knew he had. The emergence of Hernandez. The progress of some of your younger players (Rafael, Fabio and Smalling). But we must look to strengthen the team in the summer and try and recapture the style that swept us to 18 titles and one glorious night in Moscow. United need to keep themselves at the top. Liverpool will recover, Spurs will continue to improve, Chelsea will spend when required, and City will at some point eventually get their act together.
United can’t afford to rest on their laurels.