Here are a few facts to look at: With 12 premiership games remaining this season, United sit nicely at the top of the league; four points clear of second place Arsenal, eight points clear of third place Manchester City (who have played a game more) and ten points clear of fourth place Tottenham.
We head into the second phase of the Champions League having qualified from our group without losing a game and only conceding one goal.
We are due to play in the FA Cup 5th round against Crawley town in which I am confident we will advance, having already seen off a rejuvenated Liverpool in round 3 and high flying League One outfit Southampton in round 4.
Way back in August we convincingly beat Chelsea in the Community Shield; yes it is not a competitive fixture, but having been at Wembley that day I can tell you the players and especially the fans did not want to lose the chance of picking up some early silverware and getting one over on a title rival – do you think John Terry took his Chelsea side back in the dressing room after the game and said ‘Do not worry boys, this fixture doesn’t really matter’? Of course he didn’t – It mattered.
The only downside to this season occurred on an extremely cold and snowy night at Upton Park where I witnessed a 4-0 drubbing to a very poor West Ham side… I still remain adamant that had Obertan put us 1-0 up after 20 minutes we would have gone on to win the game – instead he hit the post and the rest of the night is one to forget.
So if you ask me, the analysis of the above is very positive; we are doing well on all fronts and are in a dominant position.
So why is it that on more than one occasion this season I have heard numerous pundits, journalists, fans of other sides and even our own fans mutter the words ‘not playing well but still winning’?
What do people expect? A win is a win right? Surely a sloppy 2-1 away win on New Year’s Day is as good as a 1-0 win at home right…. Or in order for us to receive some good press, does it need to be 5-0 every week in which the opposition do not have one shot on target?
The 2010/2011 season has proved to the whole of Europe that our league is far more competitive than five or ten years ago: Just take a look at some of the results we did not expect to see this season – Sunderland winning 3-0 at Chelsea, Blackpool doing the double over Liverpool, West Brom and Newcastle both winning at Arsenal. Add this to the fact that Stoke are only 6 points clear of relegation, yet 6 points from 6th place thus proving the league is much tighter and tougher than any previous year – all of the teams have improved and more points are being dropped.
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Lets be honest, remaining unbeaten all season was simply an impossible task in comparison to when Arsenal done it in 2003/04 – the funny thing about this is how they still go on about it… I cannot remember the last time I was in a pub debate when I used the fact we won the treble in ‘99 as a point of argument, but whatever.
Winning convincingly every single game, again, is an impossible task due to the nature of the league – I think the last time I felt a victory was a guarantee must have been over 7 seasons ago. I never rock up to Old Trafford knowing the boys will win; if you think like that, you are a fool, this is the Premier League and everybody wants to beat United – victory can be expected but it cannot be taken for granted; Not against Chelsea, not against Wolves, not against anybody.
Three seasons ago, we were referred to as a one man show; without Cristiano Ronaldo we would be nothing, he carries us, he wins all our points, he scores all of our vital goals and creates all that is good for us. Fair point, he was a genius. We won the premiership and the champions’ league and he was a focal point in our team.
Two seasons ago, pretty much the same thing was said – Ronaldo this, Ronaldo that. Our only world class player – if we took away his 42 goals we would be a mid table side. We are average without him and so on. Again, a fair point, I firmly believe he will go down as the greatest ever footballer, so tell me one team that wouldn’t be a better side with him in it?
Last season – Ronaldo leaves United in the summer – so what’s the word on the street? ROONEY! United are still a one man show and without Rooney would finish 5th – he does everything for us.
Wait a moment; didn’t you people say this about Ronaldo? Rooney was playing for the club at that time as well…. surely you cannot have ‘two’ one man shows? By definition it would be a duo show right? This season, Rooney has been as good as absent for 90% of the fixtures – whether it be injured, or on the field but ineffective – so what are these so called experts and pundits saying now?
Who is our saviour? Who is our one man show? Who are we relying on solely to carry us to the top of the league, FA Cup 5th round and champions league last 16?
The big shame in all of this for me is that because we have not had one man stand out for us, instead of being given vast amounts of team credit and praise which we thoroughly deserve, we are told that week in, week out, we are lucky and playing badly yet still winning.
This myth created by opposition fans and the English sports media will carry on until silverware has been won – and once this day comes I will be the first to point out that the likes of Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Nani, Fletcher, Valencia, Scholes, Giggs and Berbatov have worked together to create a winning side at United over the last 5 seasons, even when Ronaldo and Rooney were ‘carrying’ us – but the world media appear reluctant to recognise this.