Well it hasn’t been the best of starts so far, but let’s get one thing straight: we haven’t thrown away the title. Yet.
With 35 games to go, 6 of which are against the rest of the ‘Big 4’ teams, there is plenty of room for our favourite club to get right back on track. And it all begins with Spurs on Sunday:
Many of you I’m sure will be cursing our luck at the way Tottenham’s new found form coincides with our desperate situation, and I had a few doubts myself at first. I could even see Monday’s headlines reading “MAN UTD DEFOE OUT OF TITLE RACE” but believe it or not this very coincidence is actually a big blessing in disguise.
So far United’s problem has been to do with poor finishing and not being able to break down tight opposition defences. The dilemma for Martin Jol is: after the thumping win they just had and his job under a cloud, does he go to Old Trafford and defend? I’m going to assume the answer is a firm ‘no!’
Going to Old Trafford to just defend takes great discipline (as seen by Reading) and even they rode their luck in the end. Not only do Tottenham not have the right personnel to carry out such a plan, they have far too many injured defenders (and too many fit attackers). Besides, what would the media say if Jol chickened out of yet another big contest – anyone remember him taking Berbatov off when 3-1 up at Stamford Bridge?
But anyhow, I don’t really see a Spurs side with attacking intent causing United any problems. To be honest I see a determined makeshift defensive line-up giving us even fewer troubles. We are very solid at the back and hopefully Hargreaves will be there to bolster the midfield. One thing I do hope to see from Fergie though is that we add a little bite into our side over flair. Nani has shown he is a good player and I’m sure he’ll improve even further, but at this point in time I’d rather see someone like Darren Fletcher brought in to start. His work rate is always sky-high and he is still very useful from an attacking point of view, even though he may not possess the flair of a Nani or Ronaldo.
The win will be massive for the players and fans alike and the general optimism surrounding the club will change. Looking forward to our next 3 fixtures, we’ll see Sunderland at home and Everton away before Chelski travel to Manchester on 23rd September. Ronaldo’s return will happen in the middle and certainly give us an added boost.
So there they are, our next 4 games: Tottenham, Sunderland, Everton and Chelski. 3 of them are at home, which will help but the blue teams will provide stern tests. I think if we could pick up 8 points from these 4 games it would be a very acceptable amount, with any more being a bonus. If this happens we’ll have 10 points from 7 games: hardly glamorous but a start nonetheless. Then our comeback really begins :).
In football nowadays it’s all about momentum and whilst we are struggling for it ‘een zees moment’ by the end of the Chelski game we should have something really positive to build on. Then it’ll be time to really push on and put together a run of consecutive wins, and do you know what? The fixture list offers us a helping hand to get us on our way.
Birmingham (A) — Wigan (H) — Villa (A) — Middlesbrough (H)
I know Villa aren’t a bad side and Boro are something of a bogey team, but where’s the optimism people! This is the perfect set of fixtures to build upon that momentum and keep rolling forward. Rooney could be back for the Middlesbrough game, just in time for the trip to Arsenal a week later: again, another beautiful coincidence just when we need it. Saha, Solskjaer, Neville and Anderson will all be looking to have returned along the way aswell.
We should definitely be able to put 4 Ws against those fixtures, which would leave us with a now-not-so-shabby-looking 22 points from 11 games – 2 a game. The premiership will be closer this season, there is no question about that. At an early estimate I’d say 80 points will win the league.
80 points is only 2.1 a game.
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