Following their 3-2 win against Chelsea, Manchester United are now 2nd in the table by one point. When the hell did that happen!? Chelsea are the team that’s captured the eye, got all the headlines and given every pundit a boner from day 1 of the season. Yet United have climbed up the table despite supposedly shaky goalkeepers, a supposedly injury prone defence, a supposedly lightweight and lacking midfield and…well, ok, they might have the best strikeforce in Europe… Nonetheless, they’ve caught up the swashbuckling Chelsea amidst having hardly any defenders and with criticism coming at them from all angles.
It couldn’t be more typically Man United could it? They are the ultimate team in winning without playing well. They’ve probably let in more goals this season than they have in any other Premier League campaign by the end of October yet have displayed such attacking virtuosity that it hasn’t held them back (I can smell my roast dinner almost ready so don’t have the time to corroborate that, but the 13 goals they’ve conceded so far is not what you’d expect from the Red Devils). Aside from the 3-2 loss to Tottenham, they have been the league’s comeback kings this year, which goes to show the determination and motivation that Sir Alex Ferguson is still capable of instilling in his players.
If I were a United fan, I’d actually be very happy with the current state of affairs. Not only are the team carving out wins, but they have problems in their team. Believe it or not, I reckon that’s actually a good omen for the club, as it will keep Ferguson there for longer. He’s quite possibly the best manager the world has ever seen; the longer he stays at the helm the better for the club. And Ferguson is a man who likes to solve problems. He doesn’t want to leave the club without having sorted out the current United side. It explains why he didn’t leave in the past. Whether it was redeveloping United after the 99′ treble winning team, solving the post-Schmeichel keeping conundrum or responding to the threat of Arsenal/Chelsea/Barcelona/Man City (delete as appropriate), his enthusiasm for the game comes from identifying an issue and resolving it.
And this current side has issues. All the facts I attributed with a sarcastic “supposedly” earlier in the article were actually very valid points that need to be attended to. Moreover, United are in the process of adapting from their traditional reliance on wingers and width to a more narrow, total football-esque style championed (to huge success) by Barcelona and Spain. Incidentally, the movement offered by Van Persie, Rooney and Welbeck will prove vital in giving the side width and options in that respect, but that’s an area for Phil McNulty to discuss. I, on the other hand, just wanted to write a short article to comment on why the areas where they are lacking may actually be a blessing in disguise. Never underestimate the potential of a shrewd man with a point to prove.