United have proved they’re no one-man team
Describe Manchester United’s 2010 in two words that sum up the year best. ‘Wayne Rooney’. It was he, and only he, for whom all the talk and buzz was about. From January to April, Manchester’s favourite Scouser (pardon me) had the world, not quite literally, at his feet. Then, to use a well-worn cliché, it went all pear-shaped. A niggling injury greeted the business end of the Premier League season, a forgettable World Cup followed, and then worse went to chaotic worse with all his personal problems.
Some credit should go to Manchester United, who, despite being largely unconvincing this season, haven’t been all that distracted with all the talk happening off the pitch. Teams can easily flounder amid unwanted talk, and although United have hardly played Tiki-taka football and, course, they’ve been held seven times this season, they are, at least, at the summit with the luxury of two points and a game in hand. How did United get there without their so-called ‘one-man’ Rooney? Was it not, only last season, that the media talked of United’s worrying reliance on their star-man and their star-man alone?
Whatever reason you may have to argue why United at the top, it is obvious that they are, and never were, a team reliant on just the one player. Sure, you might say how the league has improved – or quite the opposite. Football is team sport – there is simply no such thing as a ‘one-man team’. In Cristiano Ronaldo’s 42-goal season, this still remains the case. Spearheads are only spearheads because of the men that surround him.
That again rings true, last season. Rooney’s 33 goals did not all come out of his own graft – indeed, he wouldn’t have scored a third of those had Antonio Valencia or Nani been in the rich vein of form they were in. It might be stating the obvious, but believe it, United were the ‘one-man team’ as the hacks and bloggers reported to them being. Having said all of that, when Rooney does return back to his prolific, animal-like best, United will be a force to be reckoned with. You decide if that’s optimism of the deluded kind or not.
And Manchester United will win their 19th title this year. Why? I’ll explain. Nani might have come out and retracted his original statement that Arsenal are United’s closest rivals, this time outlining Chelsea as United’s main threat. Yet, there has been little to suggest why Nani changed his mind – much to Wenger’s disappointment – that Chelsea could get themselves out of this patch; with Lampard’s return to fitness or not. After all, and while his return would be more than welcome at Stamford Bridge, football teams should never be dependent on just the one man. United, having played a game or two less than everybody else, have the chance to extend that lead. Chelsea might just challenge United all the way until May, or even Arsenal, but do mark my words. This is United’s season.
Nani, probably asking Santa to make sure 2010 never ends, is having an excellent year. He has ten assists for the season. Elsewhere, Dimitar Berbatov’s goal tally has also reached double figures – Park ji-Sung, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic have many reasons to smile too. ‘1’ man team? Do us a favour, Mr Hack – add another 1 beside that.