Prior to their 1-0 victory over Arsenal many had written Manchester United off this season but there are some very good reasons the champions can and likely will still retain the title.
Jenny Leigh picks out five reasons why...
First things first, they’ve done it so many times before – 20 times in the club’s history and more times than any other club in English football history. No club has a better record of domestic titles than Manchester United and, even without Sir Alex Ferguson, that has been and will in all likelihood remain the case.
The Red Devils won no less than 13 league titles under Sir Alex but they won seven prior to his arrival in 1986.
Meanwhile, it was much easier to write the champions off when they were eight points behind league leaders Arsenal on Sunday – 90 minutes later they were just five points off which, with 27 games left to play over 6 months, is nothing really. Five points is one defeat and one draw. That’s how slender and illusory the table is a present. Six points separate the top eight teams at present (of which Manchester City are the farthest behind).
Five points is nothing at all, especially when you consider United have already played all of last season’s top four behind them as well as Tottenham and Liverpool.
On that note, even under Ferguson, United have always started to build momentum around December and January – they are the kind of team that builds slowly to begin with then charges on towards the final straight of the race. Their experience shows – it’s a marathon, not a sprint and they always seem to know exactly when to turn it on, when to change gear and now, with the win against the Gunners, I full expect them to be strident.
What Sunday’s win proved more than anything to the doubters and reminded the sceptics was that Manchester United’s desire is immense – the desire the likes of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones and veteran Ryan Giggs demonstrate week in week out is never in question. They have the belief and the determination to beat anybody who wants to have a go. They are relentless in their pursuit of success and win, lose or draw, they compete.
Finally, United reminded us all about their character on Sunday – amidst all the criticism, scepticism, doubt and dismissal they’ve endured since David Moyes arrived, they pulled a result out of the bag against Arsenal. They got under the Gunners’ skin and it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t clever but it was enough to take three points.
That’s what Manchester United have always done and that’s what they will continue to do without Ferguson. He instilled something in his players that has not retired with him – hunger.
When Van Persie scored the winning goal you could see the hunger in his celebration – that was nothing to do with scoring against his former club, I believe that was him marching United up into fifth and back in the race. They’ll be hungrier than ever now –t they’ve got the bit between their teeth – their doubters have given them the perfect ammunition to fire themselves back to the top.
image: © edwin11