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Manchester United’s Mentality A Mark of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Memorable Managerial Run

I don’t really care to spend too much time on what our rivals do or say, but it’s nice to get a little laugh from one of them every now and then.

On that note, I’m not sure what Samir Nasri is smoking or drinking, but whatever it is, it’s clearly rendered him a little loopy.

From all I know about trash talk, bulletin board material, et cetera, et al, and so on and so forth, I thought it’s something to be done before you face your rival, not after you’ve lost to said rival?

Good for him that he’s in such fine form this season, but if I were him, I’d be a lot more worried about the fact that his team has three home defeats already this season and has already lost to United, Chelsea, and Tottenham, or Cesc Fabregas’ open allusions to the Gunners’ lack of intestinal fortitude in comparison to United’s big ‘uns in the big ‘uns, instead of rambling about United tripping up.

It’s only natural for someone to want to see their rivals go down, but to voice it aloud makes it look like you’re more pinning your hopes on their failure than your success. You’d expect a little less talk, not only because Nasri has now been on the winning side only once in seven meetings agaisnt United, but also because Arsenal, for all of their issues with beating top teams and losing at home, are as much in the thick of the title hunt as United are and have a chance to jump right back into it with a home win over Chelsea next Monday.

However, judging by Cesc’s comments (talk about giving Chelsea an unnecessary confidence boost, eh?) and how the last few seasons have been for Arsenal, hoping for the failures of United, Chelsea, City, and Spurs might be the only hope that the Gunners have of making a prolonged run at the title this season.

But while Nasri might have been a little off with his comments, Cesc hit the nail on the head with his. I’m not referring to what he said about his own side, but what he said about the game of football and about Manchester United’s mentality. Winning is just as much about attitude as it is about aptitude, and therein is why United find themselves at the top of the table when either Arsenal or Chelsea very well could be.

Sure, it’s nice from a viewer’s standpoint to be entertained and for your team to play sexy football, but sexy doesn’t mean squat when it doesn’t produce desired results. United still haven’t hit top gear and likely won’t until sometime after the turn of the year, as is often the case. But throughout several subpar performances, lost leads, tense moments, injuries, and distractions this season, belief and confidence have carried the side to the top.

When United were down 2-0 with 15 minutes left at Aston Villa, it would have been easy to curl up in the fetal position, close their eyes, and call it a day. However, the team did just the opposite and picked up a point that could prove to be priceless down the line. The same can be said for the wins away to Valencia and Rangers, when United kept pushing late on instead of playing out a draw. Or how about the late winners against Liverpool, Stoke, and Wolves, when blown leads and reminders of similar situations at Fulham and Everton could have seen a severe dent in self-belief, but instead, the three points were won in all three, even if it took a little more work than necessary.

On the other hand, our rivals, as talent-laden and led by top managers as they might be, have shown themselves to be lacking in that department. Besides the aforementioned issues with Arsenal, Chelsea should be doing far better than one win in their last seven Premier League matches, even with Frank Lampard’s long injury layoff and Didier Drogba’s loss of scoring form. And City and Tottenham, while both more in the mix than they’ve been at any point in recent history, haven’t yet shown that consistency to be able to help them achieve results week in, week out.

If ever there could be a fitting tribute to our now longest-serving manager, this is it. There have been tough seasons, star players have come and gone, the club’s ownership has changed hands, rivals have emerged and fallen by the wayside, and the landscape of the game has changed, but through it all, there has been a constant for United over the last couple of decades.

Whether Forest in the FA Cup in 1990, the treble-winning season filled with so many memorable heroics, the penalty shootout in the Champions League final against Chelsea two years ago, or this season, United’s fight-to-the-death spirit has been a staple of the club’s success under Sir Alex Ferguson, and one can only hope that will remain the same even after he chooses to call it quits.