Talk of a looming crisis at Old Trafford is rife across the media today, following yesterday’s 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Fulham. It’s not often Manchester United concede three goals in a game and it’s even less often that they concede three goals without reply. So should we go along with the media’s perception of the situation at Old Trafford? Or should we put it into context and analyze it properly?
I’ve always been an optimistic kind of fan. The kind that doesn’t get too downhearted after a defeat. That’s not to say I’m not passionate about my team, God knows it pains me every time we lose, but over the years I’ve learnt not to write United off.
I expect doom and gloom from the media, but perusing the various United message boards last night was a sad sight to see. Many fans have all but written off our title hopes and want significant expenditure by Sir Alex to boost the squad. I’ve even seen people say we’ve been a poor side for the last few years. How short the memories of the ungrateful are.
Four years ago we were similarly written off as title contenders. When Ruud van Nistelrooy left for real Madrid we were deemed a spent force in the Premier League. The one man we could count on to score 20+ goals per season was gone and our era of domination was over, so we were told.
Somewhat predictably for those who have faith in the manager, we won the league the following season after Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo picked up the slack. It was another of those instances where Sir Alex had proven his doubters in the media wrong and won the league. It wasn’t the first time he’d done it (“You’ll never win anything with kids”) and it certainly won’t be the last.
The 2007/2008 season started with us as favourites and ended with a Premier League and Champions League double. Ronaldo was the pick of the players with his 42 goal haul that won him the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
His achievements were written off by most as a one off. A freak occurrence that could never be repeated, and this meant the media and bookmakers had all but crowned Chelsea as champions before a ball had been kicked in the 2008/2009 season. We missed Ronaldo at the start of the season after he underwent ankle injury and we endured a stuttering start. But eventually we picked up the pace and put together a record breaking run of games where we didn’t concede a goal in the league for 1,334 minutes. This led to us overtaking Liverpool and winning our third league title in a row. No other team has won three Premier League titles in a row. We’ve done it twice!
Now I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent there, but you get the underlying message. You can’t write United off.
It’s understandable to a certain extent, but the media exaggerate much of what they print in order to sell papers with sensationalized headlines. It’s true we’ve lost the best player in the world and an Argentine labrador and not really replaced them adequately. It’s also true that we’re in the midst of arguably the worst injury crisis in recent history. But don’t let that fool you into believing we’re having a poor season. We’re in a similar position now as we were at the same point last year, but Chelsea are still strong favourites.
Last season we’d won 38 points after 18 games. This season we’re on 37, just one point’s difference.
This season we’ve scored 37 goals, compared to last season’s 29, so we’ve scored eight goals more!
So you can see we’re actually doing fantastically well when you consider the circumstances. There isn’t another team in the league that would still be in second place if they were missing eight defenders and their first choice goalkeeper. The fact that we’re still within touching distance is a testament to the manager and the squad of hardworking players he’s built to fight for this club against all the odds.
We’re traditionally slow starters in the league, so don’t be surprised if when we get some defenders back from injury, we go on another unbeaten run and really crank up the pressure on Chelsea. So no matter how bad it appears to be at the moment, keep the faith and don’t write us off. Most of all, support the shirt, not the results.
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