At this time of year the one thing we all seem used to and need is familiarity and the feeling of expectation being met. Whether it is that pair of socks from a relative or a sibling rolling in drunk after Christmas celebrations, we are all accustomed to it and expect it somewhat. In terms of football it has become almost guaranteed that we find Manchester United approaching their peak at the midway point of the Premier League season.
Since United began to dominate domestic football almost two decades ago it is now commonly accepted that the side get better as the season continues. After a sluggish autumn period for the reigning champions they sit joint top of the English Premier League with their new title challenges
Although United dominate rich lists and are not exactly short on funds it is clear that the club are not as affluent as they once were. There have been less big money purchases in recent seasons as
The start of the season had promised much after a scintillating pre-season had prompted comparisons with
There appear to be several holes in the current Manchester United squad that needed to be addressed. The lack of a quality central midfield is the main element missing; Michael Carrick has not been good enough for a long time and despite some sporadic displays of promise his consistency at United has not been good enough for many years. The fact that after a handful of games United fans were missing Tom Cleverly showed how ineffective their engine room has been for the last few seasons. There has also been no real improvement from Anderson who has stagnated at the club since his early promise. The Champions League final last season demonstrated that United need to find someone to protect the back four and then someone to begin their attacks; playing Rooney in there a few weeks ago highlighted their shortage in that position.
Another huge problem is the injury to Nemanja Vidic who will now miss the remainder of the season. His partner Rio Ferdinand lacks the authority and composure he used to have and his body simply doesn’t look capable of surviving until May. There have however been huge positives in the emergence of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling who will surely be the future pairing once the current set move on.
These facts allied with City’s dominant displays appeared to suggest that United may have lost their status as the country’s leading club. However, if you doubt