Date: 9th January 2012 at 9:54pm
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With United trailing City at just past the halfway stage there’s every reason to believe the title could well be staying at Old Trafford.

Let’s not kid ourselves though, the title is far from assured and there’s been enough below-par displays to remind all Reds that there’s definite room for improvement. With tough away games at Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea and City still to come United will have to be at the top of our game to prevent the ‘noisy neighbours’ from winning a title that would cause street parties all over Stockport.

The last few games have given United fans plenty to think about, even the derby day cup win left a bittersweet fast in the mouth due to the nature of the Reds second half near-capitulation. Let’s not be melancholy though, there’s no better team at handling the pressure of a title run-in than United and no better manager handling it than Sir Alex Ferguson. The title is there to be won, but here’s five things I believe United must do to make it to number 20 this season.

1. Play Phil Jones in midfield. The youngster has been struggling in defence of late and it’s becoming a worry. Not only that but in midfield, his partnership with Michael Carrick looked to be the kind that could carry United to the title. I know with United’s injury crisis he’s been needed in defence but its time to look for other options there. With Rio, Rafael, Evans, Smalling, Evra, Tony V and Fabio able to play in defence, we shouldn’t be using Jones anywhere else other than in the centre of the park.

2. Start Danny Welbeck – as a striker. I’m as big a fan of Welbeck as anyone, I’ve lost count of the amount of arguments I’ve had with Reds who claim he’s “not United class.” The fact is given a run in the side he’s shown what he can do, but he’s often dropped, only given half a game or played on the wing, he needs to start every week upfront. With Rooney operating either just behind him or a bit further back depending on the opposition, it’s time to stick with ‘r Danny.

3. Stick with David De Gea. This will be an unpopular idea as many Reds believe DDG isn’t up to the job, or at least not ready yet. I beg to differ, yes he’s dropped a fee clangers but he’s also made many stunning saves and kept us in games this season. The Spaniards also been unlucky in the way he’s been used in the big games, or when United have a totally makeshift defence, then dropped for a clash against a lesser team when we’ve got a decent back four. Playing De Gea for every league game may see the odd goal, being cost but it could see a hell of a lot more being stopped. Anders Lindegaard is a good keeper but De Gea has the potential to be one of the world’s best, let’s give him a chance to fulfil it.

4. Play the fringe players for the Europa. With United’s second leg against Ajax only three days before Norwich away, Sir Alex may be tempted to play his strongest team in Amsterdam and use the fringe players at Carrow Road. As was shown last season though, there are no easy away games in the Premiership and if United are to retain the title then we cannot afford to take chances in games against some of the so-called ‘lesser teams.’ All United fans want us to win the Europa but not at the expense of what will always be our priority.

5. Don’t rush back Tom Cleverley. There’s the feeling among the Old Trafford faithful that Cleverley’s return will be the boost to catapult us towards the title and that may well be true. I’d much rather see the midfielder play for the final two months or so of the season than come back in February, get injured after a few games then be out until June. United may be crying out for the youngster’s creativity- even with the return of Paul Scholes, but even if Cleverley only plays the final ten games that could be the difference between first and second.

Do you agree with my choices? Have I gone in off the deep-end? Feel free to comment, suggest and abuse below:

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