There we have it, United’s first good performance of the season matched with the goals it deserves. United beat Aalborg 3-0 away from home, converting three of the eight chances on goal, which certainly beats the one goal from open play in sixteen shots on target against Bolton. This is more like it.

Of course, our opposition weren’t World beaters and they made a blunder for the second goal, but in recent matches, we’ve failed to capitalise on our opponents mistakes. It was a much more well rounded performance from United, which will only aid our confidence. Berbatov is off the mark and Rooney has scored in our last two matches.

Just like at the start of last season, we’re getting better with every game, growing in confidence and fitness. This time last season, we’d drawn two, won two, and lost one. This season, we’ve drawn two, won two, and lost one. But there’s a massive difference.

Whilst our points would suggest we’ve had the same start as last season, the quality of our opposition tells a different story.

Last season we’d played against the eventual 8th, 9th, 11th, 15th and 18th placed teams. This season, we’ve played against last season’s 2nd, 4th, 7th, 8th and 13th placed teams. Last season we’d scored 3 goals in 5 games, this season we’ve scored 6 goals in 5 games.

Whilst it’s good to reflect on our improvement, it’s also worthwhile to see what our fixtures look like in comparison to our title rivals.


Sunderland – 15th – Away
Middlesbrough – 13th – Home
Aston Villa – 6th – Away
United – 1st – Home
Stoke – Championship – Home
Everton – 5th – Away
Average opposition league placing: 8th + 1 newly promoted team
Top 4 opposition: 1 (Home)
Home vs Away: 3 vs 3


Portsmouth – 8th – Home
Wigan – 14th – Away
Spurs – 11th – Home
City – 9th – Away
United – 1st – Home
Stoke – Championship – Away
Average opposition league placing: 8th/9th + 1 newly promoted team
Top 4 opposition: 1 (Home)
Home vs Away: 3 vs 3


West Brom – Championship – Home
Fulham – 17th – Away
Newcastle – 12th – Home
Blackburn – 7th – Away
Bolton – 16th – Away
Hull – Championship – Home
Average opposition league placing: 13th + 2 newly promoted teams
Top 4 opposition: 0
Home vs Away: 3 vs 3

In contrast, our average opposition league placing is 6/7th, we’ve faced no newly promoted teams, we’ve faced two of the top 4 teams, both away, and by the time we’ve played 6 matches, it will be 4 away days vs 2 games at home.

Assuming we win our game in hand (which we can’t do with total guarantee, but work with me here), we’ll be 6th in the league, 1 point behind Arsenal and 2 points behind both Liverpool and Chelsea. Yet we’ve had far tougher matches than all three of them.

By November 8th, we will have played all of the other top 4 teams away. In the same time, Chelsea will have played two of the top 4, both at home. Liverpool will have played two of the top 4, one at home, one away. Arsenal will have played one of the top 4 teams, at home.

Is this a complaint, unhappy with the fixtures United had been dealt? Certainly not. As long as we can keep in sight of our other title rivals, then from November onwards a large chunk of the pressure is off. We will have played all of our toughest games of the season with six months still left to go in the season, knowing that all our title rivals have to come to our place, a ground where all three of them lost season.

You might come across many giddy Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool fans over the next few months, rubbing the league table in our face, but come January or February time it could and should be a very different story. It’s not as if United aren’t accustomed to coming back to win the title from behind. Sir Alex Ferguson is more experienced than any manager in this league and even last season, we didn’t top the table until March 15th, with just 9 games left to play.

For the past couple of seasons when I’ve written about my confidence in United winning the league (which isn’t unique, as I think there’s probably only been one or two seasons since 1992 where I haven’t been confident of us winning the league at the start of the season!), we’ve had plenty of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool fans telling us to pipe down, that this is their year. Whether they cite past head to heads as the reason, or their top player, or the points they’re on at the moment, it all matters little to me, this season more than ever.

This is the best squad we’ve seen at United, so whilst the European and FA Cups are a lovely bonus, they can’t be predicted or relied upon. But I fancy us to win the league this season more than ever before. Come December, we may very well be 6 or 9 points behind, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the ‘United in decline’ stories wielded their poisonous head again, but the advantage is with us and we need to remember this.

We have a manager who has been there and done it more than anyone else in the game, often coming back from behind other teams, and I have no reason to believe this season will be any different.