Sir Alex Ferguson was talking about the league fixtures handicapping us this week, looking at the difficult games we’ve been forced in to playing so early on in the season.
Of course, the other side of this is that we’ll have an easier second half of the season, but by which point, we could be some way behind the league leaders.
Whilst many will dismiss what Ferguson has been saying as whinging, there is no arguing with facts. We have an away game in the league after every midweek Champions League fixture and we have played more difficult games than any of our title competitors.
When looking at away days in the league, United have played far more of the top half of the table teams than anyone else.
Played 6: Chelsea (1st), Liverpool (2nd), Aston Villa (4th), Arsenal (5th), Everton (7th), Portsmouth (8th).
Yet to play: Hull (6th), Fulham (9th), Middlesbrough (10th).
Played 3: Chelsea (1st), Aston Villa (4th), Everton (7th)
Yet to play: United (3rd), Arsenal (5th), Hull (6th), Portsmouth (8th), Fulham (9th), Middlesbrough (10th)
Played 2: Hull (6th), Middlesbrough (10th)
Yet to play: Liverpool (2nd), United (3rd), Aston Villa (4th), Arsenal (5th), Everton (7th), Portsmouth (8th), Fulham (9th).
Played 1: Fulham (9th)
Yet to play: Chelsea (1st), Liverpool (2nd), United (3rd), Aston Villa (4th), Hull (6th), Everton (7th), Portsmouth (8th), Middlesbrough (10th).
So, we’ve got these teams out of the way and we’re 8 points behind with a game in hand. That doesn’t act as an excuse for our performances, which have been lacking on too many occasions, but it does go some way to explain our league position. When Chelsea and Liverpool play the tough games we have, then we should start to see a truer league table.
We’re not out of the woods though and can’t rely on the second half of the season to boost our league placing. We need to pick up all the points we can now to enable to fight back in the second half of the season when the pressure of the most difficult games will have been lifted, whilst our title rivals all have to make the journey to Old Trafford.
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