Things just aren’t going our way at the moment. Whatever the reason, our players haven’t quite clicked yet. Has the inclusion of Dimitar Berbatov upset the rhythm? Is Ronaldo’s form following months of no football effecting the team? Just how badly is the absence of our three first choice midfielders hindering us?
Whilst United have shown they can play brilliant football, sustaining that level of performance seems to be too difficult.
After the opening few minutes at Anfield, we looked as though we were ready to batter Liverpool, yet we faded away in the second half. We did the same at Chelsea, letting them back in the game after controlling in the beginning. At Goodison Park at the weekend, we were in total control of the game in the first half, with another goal or two expected from us in the second half as our players walked off for the break. But yet again, it fell apart.
Against Bolton, we did nothing for the opening 45 minutes, despite having a lot of the ball in their half. However, the best chance of the game fell to Bolton, with Muamba missing the target from a few yards out. We broke the deadlock with the hour played, courtesy of a penalty that shouldn’t have been. The game ended with United enjoying 75% possession, 13 shots on target, 10 shots off target, 16 corners and a passing success of over 90%. Yet we only scored one legitimate goal, after a lovely combination from Ronaldo and Rooney.
Against West Brom, it was another goalless 45 minutes, before getting the break over 10 minutes in the second half, before going on to batter them 4-0.
So, what’s the problem?
“I’m very disappointed because I feel we’ve lost two points,” said Patrice Evra of the Everton game. “We played some great football in the first half and should have killed the game off. Our passing and movement was fantastic and I don’t why we didn’t continue to play like that. Maybe we felt too comfortable because we had played so well. But it’s not just about playing well, you have to kill off the game when you have the chance.”
Is that what it is? Feeling too comfortable? I’m starting to worry whether this is the case. However much Sir Alex Ferguson can drive home the message that we can’t be complacent, are the players suffering from being too big for their boots?
“Champions of England! Champions of Europe!” chant our fans at every game, reminding our players and everyone else what we achieved last season. Is this something our players are focussing on too much? Is that why they can’t play the football they’re capable of for longer than a half?
In all honesty, I don’t think complacency is the problem. There’s something not quite right yet, coupled with very difficult fixtures already this season, but when everything has settled, I have no doubt our class will shine through.
It’s going to get worse before it gets better, with away trips to Arsenal, City and Villa to come before the turn of the year, but this sets us up for a stronger second half of the season. We’ll have all the most difficult games out of the way. However, if we’re going to keep the Premiership trophy in Manchester for another year, we need to show up in both halves.