At 4 o’ clock on Saturday afternoon, it wasn’t looking great for Manchester United, who were somehow losing 1-0 to a managerless QPR side that had so far failed to win all season! Roll on another 30 minutes, and United were once again sitting pretty at the very top of the Premier League, having scored three times in an 8 minute burst to take all three points. Roll on another 24 hours, and both of their biggest rivals had contrived to lose points. Is this now the slow death march to another Premiership title?
This season has been a devastating one for haters of Manchesters United – there have been too many games where United have gone behind, putting a smile on their faces, only to spring into action and start scoring goals (with some obviously scored in ‘Fergie Time’) to win matches. In fact, United have come from behind on 7 separate occasions – an incredible statistic given that they have only played 13 matches?!
With United’s ‘comebackability’ ((c) ftbllr 2012), they have proven time after time that they have the mental resilience to cope with the pressure at the very top. The problem for United’s contenders is that they don’t.
Chelsea have recently changed managers, and the fans now seem more intent on letting Benitez know that they really don’t like him, than actually supporting the team. One wonders whether some fans wouldn’t prefer a further drop off in form in order to definitively prove that Rafa is absolutely not the man to lead the Blues forward next season! After 3 points out of 15, Chelsea are on the downward slope, and will be lucky to be in the Champions League next season if Benitez doesn’t turn it around. Are they title challengers? No.
Manchester City have flattered to deceive at times, with their lack of clinical finishing impacting on their ability to win matches. The surprising thing is that they have four absolutely top quality strikers on their books in Aguero, Tevez, Dzeko and Balotelli, but even with all that talent they are still struggling to score goals. They may still be unbeaten in the League this season, but the fact that they will be facing another half-season on ‘Thursday Nights, Channel 5’ points to the lack of a killer instinct at the highest level.
With the media already starting to talk up the chances that boss Roberto Mancini will follow his fellow Italian Roberto Di Matteo out of the Prem, you can see why I’m not overly confident in City providing United with a challenge.
The truth is that United will only go behind in so many games each season – once they get into their stride (and possibly get Vidic back) then their defence will become even meaner, and they won’t be getting into losing positions. Having already had 7 games going behind, I can envisage a run of the next 10 matches with United grabbing the first and second, and cruising to 90 minutes and all three points.
United face West Ham, Reading, Man City, Sunderland, Swansea, Newcastle, West Brom, and Wigan in their next 8 games, and will expect to take maximum points from all but the City away game. They have had their defensive blips, but will now start to dominate and lead games from the start. Sorry guys, but the title is already on it’s way back to United.
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