Manchester United are odds on favourites to win their 19th league title this May, an achievement that would see the Red Devils create history. They are currently tied with arch rivals Liverpool on 18 league titles each, but would like nothing more than to overtake the Merseysiders. It would take an uncharacteristic collapse from United for them to relinquish their potential crown, but with games against Arsenal and Chelsea still to come they won’t be counting their chickens just yet. In my book United deserve the title this year, as even though they haven’t been at their scintillating best, they have still led the way for the majority of the season. So what has been they recipe to United’s season so far?
The most important quality that Sir Alex Ferguson instils within his team is the winning mentality and never say die attitude. United went from the start of the season all the way through to the 5th of February without losing a Premiership fixture. This led to suggestions they would replicate Arsenal’s unbeaten run from the 2003-04 season. It wasn’t to be though and a 2-1 defeat on a Saturday evening in Wolverhampton ended the dream. Nevertheless, their resilience has been evident on numerous occasions this season and some of their fighting spirit has been the stuff of Champions. The two games in particular that encapsulate this are the 3-2 wins away at Blackpool and West Ham. Both times United went into the dressing room at half time 2-0 down but miraculously turned the result around into victories.
Another key factor is having a squad that is littered with experienced players who have done it all before. When you have Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand to name but a few, the wealth of experience these players bring, give United an unparalleled advantage. Additionally, the strength in depth Man United possess has enabled them to go long periods of time without key players such as Ferdinand, Vidic and Valencia, but the cracks haven’t appeared. In contrast, Arsenal seem to be almost entirely dependent on Nasri, Van Persie and Fabregas, whereas a Man United team with out Rooney, Vidic or Nani is still capable of outclassing 85% of the teams in the league.
When a team boasts the Premiership’s top goal scorer and he is the clubs current third choice striker it carries a certain gravitas. Dimitar Berbatov has hit 21 league goals and still he finds himself restricted to the bench. Wayne Rooney is starting to show his best form as we head towards the climax of the season, but it’s fair to say he has performed well below the bar he set himself last year. Rooney’s form hasn’t effected United though, as Hernandez, Berbatov and Nani have all at some stage this season produced when United have needed it.
This Manchester United team is not the best side Fergie has put together in his time at Old Trafford, and their quality of football has come into question from some quarters. The lack of a goal scoring central midfielder has been an issue that Sir Alex will no doubt address during the summer. Whether or not you agree with the critics who have criticised this current team there is no denying what they have done so far. As well as homing in on their record 19th title, the team have literally booked themselves a place in the Champions League final. So while they may not have played the most eye catching expansive brand of football, at the end of the day it’s a results business and United continue to do what’s required of them, win football matches and trophies.