When looking at United this season, you would think the last thing we had to complain about was our strikeforce. The team has scored 63 goals in all competitions this season, which amounts to 32 games. An average of just under 2 goals a game is more than impressive, and it speaks volumes we’ve achieved this the season following the sale of our most prolific goalscorer of recent times. Our first choice forwards, Rooney and Saha, have 20 between them, winger Ronaldo is on 12, and after Ole’s vitally important goal today, he’s scored 9. It is not just these individuals though, when we look at the team as a whole, the goals are being spread amongst them.
However today was another reminder of how not putting away our chances can be costly. Today we came out on top, and won a game we thoroughly deserved to, but it took us until injury time and a keeper blunder to wrap up the game.
If we look back to the Newcastle game at the start of the week, we had 18 chances to Newcastle’s 7, yet we left with 1 point. We had 56% of the possession to their 44%, and 10 corners to their 1. The game we dropped points before that was West Ham. 16 chances to their 7, 57% of the possession to their 43%, and 11 corners to their 1. These are games that on paper we should have stormed to victory, yet our missed opportunities cost us.
When Jose Mourinho said United had blown it the other week, I laughed. We all know Jose would give anything to have “blown it” like United have, and be 6 points in front. Whilst I don’t agree at all that we’ve blown it, you can’t help but feel better finishing would leave us currently eleven points clear at the top.
Wayne Rooney is an incredible player, and I can honestly say there is no one in the World I would swap him for. His skill, his ability, his imagination, his passion, his drive, his strength, his love of the game put him on a pedestal for me, and when he’s at his best, no player can get anywhere near him. On the opening day of the season, Rooney, along with Ronaldo, ripped Fulham apart. It looked as though this was going to be his season, his time to really shine for us. Surprisingly though, it’s England’s public enemy number one who has been the one delivering mainly for us. This isn’t to say Rooney is having a bad season, let’s not forget that in the league, only seven players have more goals to their name, and only three players have more assists, but he looks the shadow of the player we know he can be.
We have a great side, with great potential, and for the most part, we’re fulfilling it. Without reaching top gear, United have brushed aside the likes of Bolton, Liverpool and Portsmouth, who are all top six sides. However, there are always going to be bad days at the office, where we need something special to make the difference. Despite being the best side at Upton Park, we lacked imagination and that special spark, something with Rooney is more than capable of providing. Whilst we are capable of winning games without him being at his best, there are always going to be the games where we need him to be playing at his best to get the three points.
Over our next seven games we have to travel to Arsenal, Spurs, Fulham and Liverpool. To guarantee three points in these away fixtures we need to have our first team at their best. As we’ve shown on numerous occasions this season, we’re capable of playing devastating football, and I’d challenge the World’s best to come and play us on those days and leave Old Trafford with anything. Equally, we’ve seen games where we haven’t been anywhere near our best, yet still secured the three points, like against Spurs at the start of the season. But for us to make a mark on the league this year, we need to be picking up all three points on our away trips to quality English sides.