Date: 15th July 2011 at 2:01am
Written by:
United celebrate

United in a typical pose

Could fate really be such a cruel mistress as to allow United to finally overtake Liverpool in the number of titles won, only to see them catch up a mere season later?

“Surely not!” I hear you cry almost incredulously in unison, yet as I’ve learnt over the years as a United fan, its more often complacency that leads to our defeats, rather than lack of ability.

In ’92 we were sure to beat Forest at home and West Ham away, in 1995 Blackburn werent good enough 1998, Arsenal would never catch us- just ask Fred Done, in 2003 we’d put Arsenal back in their place and didn’t need to worry about them again, Roman’s billions? Pah! Nothing to fear there.
You get my point. It’s been too easy over the years to dismiss any sort of threat to United, with the disdain many of us believe they deserve, but let’s face some ‘facts’ as a certain Spanish waiter once said, United don’t always have things our way, despite what we may sing.

This pre-season has almost been a gift from baby Jesus, United have bought three top class young players while our rivals have done very little and in some cases gone backwards. With Chelsea’s best midfielder out for several months- sorry but it is a massive boost for us as much as it is a loss for them, Arsenal struggling to keep hold of their players when they also need to buy a goalkeeper, striker, defender and a midfielder it’s easy to feel somewhat overjoyed at how the Summer has begun. Then there’s our noisy neighbours facing the potential loss of a certain Argentinian, who somehow hasn’t turned out to be as loyal as they thought, ooh the irony.

Only one team seems to be bothering to try and assemble the sort of squad that can really challenge United next season and unfortunately it happens to be our less educated friends from down the M62.
Liverpool have picked up where they left off in the January transfer window by spending big. They were fortunate in January in the fact that Chelsea were willing to pay over the odds for a player who looks like he’d rather spend an evening having his nails pulled out than he would playing football.

This Summer though, Liverpool have dipped into their own pockets – yeah, I know “instead of the nearest bin”- to spend money on the likes of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing.
Henderson I’m not a big fan of to be perfectly honest and this isn’t my Mancunian tinted spectacles working overtime, I’ve said ever since we were linked to him, I felt he was a poor man’s Michael Carrick. Adam is a player I did admire last season though, I even wrote a post advocating a United bid for him as I genuinely felt we could use his dead ball ability – not just from free kicks and penalties but corners which have been a problem for us for some time now.
Given the choice of Downing or Ashley Young, I’d pick Young but that doesn’t mean Downing is a complete waste of space, in fact he may well rise to the occasion at a bigger club.

The point is Liverpool have three players who have shown they can perform in the Premier League to a high standard- albeit rarely in the case of Henderson, while all United’s other rivals have done very little.
More importantly Kenny Daglish seems to have some form of plan for getting players who could benefit Andy Carroll the most. Carroll’s aerial threat will be utilised nicely by Adam and Downing, while Luis Suarez could feed off the knockdowns, not an all too terrible attack if we’re disgustingly honest.
Add to the mix the youngsters who were given a chance at the back end of last season and did a decent job, plus the experience of the barely comprehensible Jamie Carragher and title throwing Steven Gerrard, not to mention arguably the League’s best ‘keeper and you have the makings of a title challenging side.

It’s easy for me to rant about how Downing wouldn’t get in our side or Carroll will probably be in prison by the time the season starts but I’ve been equally as flippant about our threats in the past and sometimes been left with an omelette on my face.
Don’t forget in 1995 Jason Wilcox wasn’t good enough for our bench, in 2002 the Arsenal defence was past it, in 2010 Chelsea were no longer a threat.

It’s easy to dismiss Liverpool and would be very enjoyable but just for now I’ll err on the side of caution and say while I still believe it’s United’s title to lose, the new arrivals at Anfield plus the galvanising effect a certain Scottish manager has had on the club, shouldn’t be ignored just yet.

Am I worrying too much about a team that’ll struggle to make the top four? Is it City and Chelsea we should be focusing on? Will Liverpool ever win the title again?
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