Following on with our contributing writer project, here’s an article which looks at the question “Will United end up with nothing?”.
The Carling Cup and World Club Championship may be in the bag but to the majority of United fans these trophies do not signify success. They are simply fashion accessories, which add a little extra glamour to the main outfit, but without the big trophies, for a club the size of Manchester United, they pale into insignificance.
It is far too early for doom and gloom – a virtual reserve team competed against one of the Premiership’s top sides for 120 minutes on Sunday and but for the lottery of a penalty shootout, would have taken their place in the FA Cup final. However, the reality is that what threatened to be United’s most successful season of all time now has the potential to leave them virtually empty handed.
Everything is still potentially in their hands, but there are a lot of huge obstacles that need to be overcome
There are no easy games in the Premiership but United’s run in certainly isn’t the easiest. Tottenham follow on Saturday, chasing a Europa league spot after a remarkable turn around in form under Harry Redknapp. Trips to Middlesborough and Wigan, two grounds where Liverpool have failed to win this season, should be negotiable but only with a professional and confident approach, while mathes against City and Arsenal, albeit at home, will not be easy.
In the Champions League, Arsenal’s defeat by Chelsea in the FA Cup Semi Final on Saturday along with Aston Villa’s capitulation in the league, means that the Gunners are free to focus almost exclusively on the European ties. Liverpool have shown in recent semi-final clashes with Chelsea that by keeping players fresh for Europe, it can make the difference and having already lost to Arsene Wenger’s men this season, it certainly won’t be an easy couple of games, especially since it’s sandwiched in between a tough trip to the Riverside.
United do possess the quality to go on and win not just the Premiership but the Champions League but it is now time for their big names to stand up and be counted. For all the media fawning over United’s play, the reality is that star players are not performing. Although still capable of moments of genius, Cristiano Ronaldo is a shadow of the player he was last season while Dimitar Berbatov has failed to live up to his £30m price tag in a Man Utd shirt.
For all their nice play, at times United appear to lack a killer instinct and the fact that in recent weeks they have been rescued by the 17-year-old Italian Federico Macheda says it all. However, United do have enough players who have been around the course many times before in the likes of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand and such experience could be crucial in the run in.
The title is very much in United’s hands – they are certainly in a favourable position to Liverpool, having a game in hand as well as being three points clear, but the players must realise that there can be no more slip-ups and while the FA Cup Final may evade them this year, every single match between now and the end of the season is a cup final.
Written by Danny Watson, a professional sports writer who blogs about football news.