The Evening News asked ‘what’s wrong with United?‘ yesterday, claiming we weren’t firing on all cylinders. It’s odd because United usually start the season so well…
We of course knew that like most things concerning our football club for the past few years, this season would be all about Cristiano Ronaldo, regardless of the fact we claimed £80 million for him in the summer.
Without the spark of Cristiano Ronaldo and the tenacity of Carlos Tevez, among fans and critics alike there is a sense that the Reds are collectively out-of-sorts.
It’s true, ‘fans’ do seem to be getting edgy, hence the embarrassing boos from around the ground at half time against Sunderland. But anyone who has followed United for longer than a season should actually be happy with what we’ve done so far, as it’s better than any other recent season.
The performances against Wigan, Spurs, Stoke and the second half of City, were really solid displays, creating loads of chances, playing attacking football, and looking entirely on top. Christ, what short memories some fans must have. To have four impressive performances in five games is pretty good going, particularly compared to last season when our impressive defensive dragged us through game after game.
This year we don’t have the impressive defensive record, rather error after error, goal after goal, which shouldn’t be entirely disregarded, but with the players we’ve had available, it’s not the end of the world. First choice goalkeeper, Edwin Van der Sar has been absent all season, Nemanja Vidic missed the start of the season and Rio Ferdinand has missed most of the season. Those three alone were largely responsible for our great defensive record last season so it stands to reason that we’ll concede more goals without them.
Wayne Rooney is the third highest scorer in the league, despite our defensive errors only Villa and Chelsea have conceded fewer goals, and only two players have more assists to their name than Ryan Giggs, both of whom having played considerably more than Giggsy.
What’s wrong with United?
1. We could do with some extra strength in that central midfield
2. It would be nice to have an injury free defence
3. We do want more goals from our strikers
4. Better performances from our wingers
But when have United ever had the perfect team? The perfect start? A perfect season? In 1998-1999 we won just 22 of our 38 matches! Of course I’m aware things have changed, the league has not been won with so few games won since then, but the point is it’s never perfect. When you reflect on a season with red-tinted specs, it’s easy to remember the brilliant goals and the great games, but the less convincing moments are swept aside. We got battered 4-1 by Liverpool then lost 2-0 away to Fulham in our next match last season, but the details of our 3-2 victory over Villa and 5-2 win against Spurs are far more easily recalled.
At the end of this season, we’ll cast the Burnley defeat to back the of our minds and that 4-3 win over City, along with other brilliant days, will stay in the forefront of our memories. Hopefully by then we’ll be Champions again and if possible, have another trophy or two to our name. But winning the league isn’t something we should take for granted and if we are to win it this year we will be doing something no other team in this country has before, being named Champions four seasons in a row.
Still, as starts to the season go for United, this is a bloody good one and anyone booing or worrying too much is wasting their energy.
We’ll never die.
W5 D2 L1
Total points: 17
Goals scored: 7
Trophies won: 1. Premiership 2. European Cup
W4 D3 L1
Total points: 15
Goals scored: 13
Trophies won: 1. Premiership 2. League Cup 3. Fifa World Club Cup
W6 D1 L1
Total points: 19
Goals scored: 19