Impressive run a testament to United’s progression
It’s Progress. Not of the Take That kind but of something better – United have improve considerably from last season. “Really?” I hear you say with your mouse hovering over the ‘close tab’ button. Manchester United’s away form hardly suggests that, nor does yesterday’s events at Molineux where United failed to turn up show this.
Of course, the Red Devils’ travels on the road have been miserable. They’ve conceded nearly as much as they’ve scored (18 for, 16 against) and managed just 17 points from a possible 36. Yet their home form makes up for this, to an extent, acting as a welcome contrast: in thirteen games, United have only dropped points in one, winning the other 12. Is that progress (?), I hear you say, when United sit at the top comfortably (albeit less after losing to Wolves) without playing the kind of vintage stuff consistently. And that because the others haven’t played that great either, that is the only reason why United are at the summit?
It’s a mixture of a lot of things – but United should win the title this season. Get a hold of myself? I did say ‘should’, so it’s not certain of happening. But they should. As a team they have progressed, collectively (debatable) and individually (undisputedly). Going 29 games unbeaten is an achievement that you could hardly have envisaged at the start of the season.
If you want an example of such progression from individuals, look no further than Nani. That’s eight goals, twelve assists and a dozen more defenders having reccurring nightmares. This is easily his finest season at the club; the winger is fed up in playing in Ronaldo’s shadow and has applied consistency to his game that, at one point in his career, we’d have never thought. And then there’s Berbatov, flourishing in a role where he is most comfortable in. Honourable mentions must also go to Rafael da Silva and even Nemanja Vidic – the signing of a new contract in the summer looking an inspired one.
Team progression or regression? It can all be backed up with a bit of Point, Evidence and Explanation. Point – United have improved. Evidence – the following quote from Sir Alex: “The character of this team has been well established,” Fergie says. “Of course, we have young players throughout the club but the main body of players has been here a long time. They know there are some games where you have to find a solution. That has always been important to the club; it is recognised we never give in. It’s a great quality and I think their perseverance has got better as they have got older.”
Explanation – United are well set for the future. As in ‘main body of players’, Ferguson is not just talking of United’s veterans but his senior squad as a whole. Naturally, if and when a player gets better by development, the team gains from it. There has been much talk, too, of how United will replace their so-called veterans when they finally call it a day. But Sir Alex is one step ahead. His rotation policy means that more focus is on the development of his players who currently have a long-term future at the club, and so the loss of United’s old guard will not be as great a loss as first anticipated. This is progress – just have a little patience (extra marks for another Take That reference) and you’ll soon see it come May.