As I ploughed through the post match comments made by Harry Redknapp and Sir Alex, I was astounded to stumble upon Harry stating that United won’t remain unbeaten.
Speaking on sunday evening Harry said:
“I couldn’t say United are on another level – I can’t see them going the year unbeaten.
“There are lots of teams who could beat them on any given day. Other teams have improved and got closer to them.”
What the Englishman says is true, but in actual fact United will most likely go the remainder of the season unbeaten, and here’s why.
Although United have struggled a considerable amount since the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez (point also made by Harry Redknapp), but it seems United will reclaim the title..with their defence!
As baffling as that may sound, it’s the cold hard truth. United’s form of attack has been at times, tepid this season and when United have looked to him for goals, Wayne Rooney has ultimately failed. United have depended largely on Nani’s presence as his early season form was what had the champions at the top, closest to Chelsea. Nani had 8 assists and 2 goals to his name after 10 appearances but when he drifted off into the abyss it was mainly left to an array of anonymous United players to provide for United’s needs.
People may argue that United will eventually succumb, whether it in their next match or last, but it will ultimately fall to United’s defence to direct where the season will end up. Manchester United are currently at the summit of the Premier League on goal difference and are also at the top of the League’s best defence, conceding only 19 22 games this season.
The rebirth of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic playing together has also played it’s part in United’s attempt to win back the title. Ferdinand had been out for a sustained period and the almighty task was let up to Vidic and Northern Irish youngster Jonny Evans. Although Vidic, as usual, kept his side of the bargain, Evans was not so successful and his inexperience was starting to show. The return of Ferdinand has been key in United’s season, almost a turning point dare I say it. This season the two have been a rock at the back for United, conceding only 4 in their last 8 and have shown glimpses of what made United the team to beat for the last four seasons. Vidic, being bought by Fergie for a modest £6 million back in January 2006, has become an exceptional signing proving Fergie still has a knack for the game even at the age of 65.
The defending has been a magnificent part of United’s season to date, but as Kolo Toure said recently “defenders win you games, strikers win you titles”. United have been struggling in that department for a little over a year now but it could all end due to the resurrection of Bulgarian Dimitar Berbatov. Berbatov, having joined from Tottenham in 2008, had failed to make an impact prior to this season and had been slated for his lazy attitude to the game. Cue the reincarnation of the Bulgarian striker and this season he’s already passed his highest previous goalscoring season for Manchester United, currently stuck on 14, a tally which he’s been meaning to increase since his last goal on December 28th in a lacklustre 1-1 draw with Birmingham.
If United are going to go all the way this season they must address several key factors that will guide them to Premier League success.
1 – Quite obvious this, get Wayne Rooney back scoring. Rooney has only netted 3 this season, a figure hugely disappointing for a man who had scored 30+ goals for fun last time around. Injuries have played their part but there’s no excuse for his lack of penetration when playing.
2 – United’s away form must improve. I cannot stress how important this factor is. United have already drawn 10 matches, 9 away from home and have ony managed a mere 2 victories on the road this term. Continuation of this problem could lead to United surrendering their lead, a feat that we’ve come to know over the course of this season Premier League campaign.
3 – Anderson and Scholes to start as the midfield combo. Anderson provides a constant surge of energy for the United team and poses threats that Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick don’t. Frankly, Scholes doesn’t need an intro. He’s (arguably) the English version of Spanish maestro Xavi. Injured, he may be, but if he shows that form that saw him crowned Premier League player of the month back in August then the other teams will have serious problems catching United.