It’s all looking good for the Red Devils with a 7 point lead at the top of the Premier League. A crucial weekend is now done and dusted with Manchester United and Manchester City both picking up 3 points against difficult opponents. Manchester United dominated Liverpool completely till the Scousers scored. After that there were signs of the below par defending that United have had this season. It’s been a strange season for United thus far considering that they have won many of their trophies in the last few years due to a very strong defence. This season almost all the teams in the top 10 have conceded fewer goals than United and even Sunderland at 14th in the table has conceded as many goals as United.
So how are United 7 points clear? Simple they have scored a bucket load of goals following the steps of the Real Madrid team of the early 2000’s where they had a policy of “You score 3, We will score 4.”
So where are these goals coming from? This Summer United added the prolific goal scorer Robin Van Persie from Arsenal to their ranks. And what a signing he has been – 17 goals and 9 assist so far in the league. These fantastic numbers have fuelled various opinions that United is a one man team and without RVP, would struggle to get into the top 4! This would be highly unfair to the likes of Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Javier Hernandez and many others who have contributed to United’s success this season.
First let us analyze the performance of Wayne Rooney. Since Cristiano Ronaldo left Old Trafford for Real Madrid, Rooney has been United’s talisman. Playing in his preferred central role, he scored many more goals than he had been scoring playing in make shift positions for the greater good of the team. This season with the arrival of RVP he has adopted the playmaker role, playing in the hole behind the striker; and with great effect. He is not getting the credit he deserves considering the goals scored by RVP. But he does not have bad numbers either: 7 assists and 7 goals considering the number of matches he missed because of freak injuries. In fact he was superb in all the matches against the top teams: Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal. He is doing the job of being the 2nd striker and the dynamic midfielder that United need – 2 jobs done with sheer class. An example of his work in midfield can be seen in the number of yellow cards he has been shown this season. He has 4 already compared to the single yellow he got last season. A proof of the effort put by him in the midfield to break up play.
Michael Carrick has been the unsung hero for many a season at Man Utd. Doing all the dirty work in the center of midfield and coming up with the brilliant pass at crucial moments in matches. This season he has raised his performance level and has been Mr. consistent at the club. In fact he has started almost all matches and has been excellent in both creating and breaking up play. His pass to Chicharito in the Newcastle match was just another example of his contribution to United.
This brings us to Chicha! He is the super sub. The new Solksjaer! His timely goals have won United matches against Aston Villa, Newcastle, Chelsea and whenever he plays he gives the opposition defense a torrid time. His late runs are just amazing and he is the perfect impact player that can be brought on to change the game. Even Welbeck has been sharp and has worked his socks off whenever he has played. Against Liverpool he was the best player in my opinion; never giving the Liverpool defense a moment of peace, chasing down every ball and closing down all players.
There have been many other contributions to the United cause this season, with Scholes and Giggs, in spite of the loss of pace for obvious reasons, coming up with wonder passes that lead to goals. Even the defense has chipped in this season with Evans and Evra both scoring crucial goals.
Now Vidic is back and he has shown signs of being back to his best with good performances against West Brom, West Ham and Liverpool. He is winning those aerial duels and the crunching tackles are back. Rafael has also improved a lot this season and his combination with Valencia has troubled even Cole and Clichy, arguably the two best left backs in the league right now. Rio may have lost pace but his reading of the game is 2nd to none with important interceptions. With Jones, Smalling and Kagawa all back and reaching full fitness and Nani expected to return soon it looks positive for United.
An exciting line up of matches awaits United with Spurs next week followed by the humdinger against Real Madrid in the champions league. The Red Devils may have the best player in the league at the moment but it has been no solo effort. The come backs this season have been a testament of the sheer belief and attitude of the squad and as the man himself has said, Manchester United is a “Champion Team”.
This is what the striker said, “This is a special team. Everybody wants to help each other. Everybody’s keen for everyone to score. Defenders are working their socks off for the midfielders, the midfielders are working for the strikers – everybody wants to run and everybody has one target in their mind.” I don’t disagree.
– By Suhail Bhansali.