So another weekend of football has been and gone, and once again it’s the old master who is looking down on the chasing bunch with victory in his sights.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s current Manchester United side may not be emulating his entertaining teams of years gone by, they are however, continuing to edge closer to a record 19th Premiership title, with a solid and consistent winning mentality.
Manchester United has always been renowned for free flowing attacking football, and this is still very much embedded in their current squad. It has been evident for quite a while, in particular since the departure of Christiano Ronaldo, that United are lacking creativity in midfield. While Sir Alex has been fortunate that Ryan Giggs still manages to defy time by putting in match winning displays for United, he has not been so fortunate with Paul Scholes, who he has had to use sparingly over the past few seasons.
The fact that Ferguson has not attempted to replace his two veterans yet, shows you just how much these two players have contributed to the success of United over the years. What Ferguson has instead done, is assembled a squad mixed with experience and youth, combined with a touch of class, coming from the likes of; Nani, Berbatov, and Wayne Rooney.
Many football pundits have argued that United have not played well this season, but continue to grind out results. Does anyone remember Jose Mourinho’s first two seasons at Chelsea? The same pundits argued that Chelsea did not know how to play attractive football, but records speak for themselves. Chelsea won back to back Premiership titles, along with the Carling Cup in Mourinho’s first season.
There are comparisons between how Chelsea played under Mourinho, and how United are playing now, with both teams showing glimpses of world class football, combined with a strong defensive unit. However, Sir Alex will point to United’s home form this season as proof that his side are doing more than just showing glimpses.
United have dropped only two points at home this season, scoring 39, and conceding just nine. If you compare that to their away form, where they have drawn eight, and lost to Wolves quiet convincingly, it is not hard to see where United have struggled. There’s an old saying in football; “win at home and draw away, and you will win the league”. This is exactly what Manchester United are doing.
Manchester United have shown glimpses of brilliance at Old Trafford this season. Their 7-1 demolition of Blackburn in November, along with Berbatov’s stunning overhead winner against Liverpool, highlight the quality Ferguson still possesses in his ranks. They have beaten their main rivals Arsenal at home, while Rooney’s wonder strike against Manchester City two weeks ago is a contender for goal of the season.
Ferguson may not have a Roy Keane, Christiano Ronaldo, or a young Paul Scholes to choose from, but what he does possess is a squad blended together with; youth and experience, combined with enough quality to see United over the line to claim a record 19th Premiership title. While the likes of; Rooney, Nani, Berbatov, and Giggs grab the headlines, it is the contributions of Darren Fletcher, Nemanja Vidic, and Patrice Evra, who are providing United with a solid defensive structure not seen since the days of Schmeichel, Bruce, and Pallister.
When you add a fit Rio Ferdinand, along with the experience of Edwin Van Der Sar, and the likes of Michael Carrick, John O Shea, Ji Sung Park, and Johnny Evans, to come in and do a job for the team, it is evident that Sir Alex Ferguson may currently possess his strongest squad to date at Manchester United. Ferguson also has his crop of young players breaking into the United team, with Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling looking to be two fine acquisitions.
In the next two weeks United face away trips to Stamford Bridge and Anfield, along with a potential FA Cup showdown with Arsenal, and a must win Champions League knockout tie against Marseille at Old Trafford. These four encounters will determine United’s Seaso and will also no doubt test the backbone of Alex Ferguson’s current squad.
Should Ferguson’s men remain top of the table, and in all three competitions in the next 14 days, then we just may see a repeat of the treble winning side of 1999. The resources are available for it, while Stranger things have happened this season.