Some may disagree, but Manchester United are hardly in ‘decline’
Whisper it quietly, Manchester United look a team capable of winning the championship. It may be all too early to conclude such; indeed, United have been far from convincing this campaign, but, call me a delusional optimist if you wish, things are looking up down Sir Matt Busby Way.
United in decline? They’re not – and they never have been. When Cristiano Ronaldo had left Old Trafford, many thought United would not be able to cope and would struggle; yes, they couldn’t quite reach the heights of the double winning 2007/08 season, nor the campaign after that, but they remained a constant threat in the league, even without the services of Ronaldo, falling just a point short of Chelsea and there is every possibility they can do one better this season.
To quote a well-worn cliché, United have been every bit of a roller coaster club this season. The defence has been particularly scrutinised; but although their league form would suggest otherwise, they have been the best team in Champions League, defensive-wise at least, with three clean sheets from three in a difficult group. Stability has now been restored, though, with the return of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Against Spurs on Saturday, they were excellent; United were tight, compact and had a gameplan, and encouragingly enough, both Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher had the opposition held safely in their pockets. That ties in with the ‘things are looking up’ point. The Red Devils have won their last four games, they’ve been far more disciplined at the back, and players have found form; look at Javier Hernandez or Nani, someone who has managed eight assists this term, leading the way in the Premier League.
Decline is a silly word to use in Manchester United’s case. If you want to find a team in decline, look no further than Liverpool.