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Manchester United
Posted by Mark Payne on 01/05/2011

Picture the scene, a club playing free-flowing football with young players being integrated into the side tops the league. The club have fallen below their normal standards of late and are climbing back up. Their manager is taking a lot of stick from the press about his philosophies but he is sticking to his guns and putting his faith in youth. If the club were Arsenal, the plaudits would be raining down from Kingdom Come, as it is Manchester United people just say we are playing badly and that we're getting all the luck. Rubbish.

Nani is having a terrific season. He has always been Ronaldo in his head, in his head, but last night’s goal, and indeed many of his performances lately, have been almost as impressive as some of the departed player’s efforts.

Hernandez now has 9 goals from 12 starts for United. Those are the kind of statistics that make people say ‘Van Nistelrooy’ and when you look at his natural instinct for goal, not to mention the positions he consistently finds himself in, it appears the Dutchman’s heir has arrived. Personally, I wouldn’t be picking Rooney for the Liverpool game.

It has been an unbelievably gruelling winter program and we fielded the following players to get through it; Gibson, Hernandez, Smalling, Rafael, Anderson, Nani, Obertan and Johnny Evans. That’s a lot of youth and a lot of integrating of new players at a key time of the season.

It is perhaps because of Sir Alex’s rather prickly relationship with anybody holding a tape recorder that such reality is not reported fairly. In general, I agree that we haven’t swatted aside the so-called ‘lesser teams’ this season with gladiatorial ease. In fact, nobody has, the difference is that United have won games playing decent footy and scoring lovely goals.

When such cuisine is served up how on earth can you complain? Many viewers of the game remind me of a spoilt child who complains about his Christmas presents not being extravagant enough, oblivious to the fact there are millions who get none at all.

Whilst the plaudits may go elsewhere, I’ll be happy watching the side do what they do. Having been to OT several times over Christmas period I will, alas, be missing the cup tie against the Scousers due to another commitment. I’ll be relying on the rest of you to cheer them on for me.

Allez les Rouges.

Follow Mark on twitter.com/markjpayne

Comments

Posted by Srivashist on 01/05/2011

Bang on target Mark, this is the season of transition, if we hold on and win the league and reach the semis in the CL it will be a big big season.

Next season we will be hitting the peak. The only problem I see is the 'keeper. We need a solid lad between the post.

Cheers, United forever.

Posted by Tapiwa Mubonderi on 01/05/2011

I think this current team is very and will do well this season the only result which did not make sense was the capitulation at West Ham.

Posted by Tony on 01/05/2011

Well said Mark. However, I would add Macheda to your list and also remind that we've got other two really bright prospectives being loaned out playing excellent Premier League football weekly: Welbeck (6 Premier League goals for Sunderland) and Cleverley (3 goals so far). Future's looking bright!

Posted by Wade on 01/05/2011

Bravo again Mark! Wonderful article. Could not agree more. Double (treble anyone?) here we come! United forevor!

Posted by ruudyeung on 01/06/2011

I for one cannot understand the negativity in the press and media over united's performance of late. To borrow the words of our one favourite Rafa Benitez, FACTS: We have now taken a total of 10 points from a possible 12 over the festive period, and we have built an absolute fortress at home: we have only dropped 2 points at home over the whole season.

Just because a purist thinks free-flowing, fancy short-passing wonder goals are the pinnacle of football does not mean that that is the yardstick by which all should be judged. Football end of the day is about the result, and the efficient taking of chances and defending of leads. United have done that wonderfully well this season when it matters, and even when we have stumbled, we never caved in and always clawed it back. All this with the addition of new young talent and the academy players.

I for one am excited about watching United carry on the good work the rest of this season. Come on you reds!

Posted by David Smith on 01/06/2011

What a glorious Wednesday! Arsenal and Citeh drop points to each other; Chelsea and Liverpool lose again and Tottenham manage to fluff their lines at Everton. Just what the Bitters and Mancini are playing at, I'll never know though. Spending hundreds of millions to bring in mercenaries and for what? To set out the stall at home to your illustrious neighbors and then the Emirates? How about having a go and actually trying to win that first piece of silverware in..ahem..35 years. I don't think Ancelotti will get sacked during the season, but I would of thought the Bin Dippers would have fired poor ol' Roy by know, especially when you consider their next match is at Old Trafford in the Cup. Nothing like bringing in a new man to gee up the boys for those first few matches, eh. Anything less than a United win on Sunday will be very disappointing. So we're pulling away in the league now and with games-in-hand. Time to buckle down and step it up a bit. Do that and we'll have our 19th in May!

Posted by Red on 01/06/2011

Hernandez is a genius, isn't it. Mu has a lot of talented players, all thanks to Ferguson for taking Gibson, Macheda, Anderson and more other. With this squad, they haven't lost in the league since last year defeat to Chelsea. I think if they keep their momentum, they may overwrite arsenal 49 league games unbeated in the league. I think if they can win at Liverpool at Old Trafford, they may even get their first Fa cup for more than 5 years. They are topping the league with 2 games in hand, they are pushing for their 19 top domestic league champions. After that, they need a talented keeper to replace van Der Sar.

Posted by Kelvin on 01/06/2011

We are playing badly (compared to our usual standards), and we have been lucky on occassions, and maybe unlucky (or not quite good enough) to conceed late equalisers on other occassions.

But thats sports.

Anyone who complains and has called for players and the manager to be sacked in the past few months....would they rather be Chelski, or Shitty, or that unmentionable rival team in 12th spot currently???

End of rebuttal.

Posted by tuhin on 01/06/2011

Well, perhaps the younger generation of us football fans have become used to the vision of United winning silverware each season and playing the best game everytime...This is a sobering article,Mark...especially when you gave the Christmas gift analogy...Imagine what the fans went through from '69 -'89!!!!...20 years of hurt!!!...relegation,mediocrity and what not!!!

I agree when you say that we must be happy with our lot and not crib as each game passes...the fact that they are at the top of the heap with a game in hand over the others and still undefeated is enough to make even the moodiest of United supporters smile (provided he has the diposition)...I am happy with where we are and accept that we need to win ugly when it comes to championship wins.

I'd like to conclude saying that Hernandez has been a revelation and it's a joy the see the Mexican version of Ole whenever he displays his wares...I hope he keeps going like that...

Hope you had a good festive season, Mark...:)

Posted by MU fan on 01/06/2011

EPL 2011 + FA Cup 2011 + CL Cup 2011 all are for sure in MU's bag. All are from the master work of King Fergie...!!!
Long Live King Fergie!!!!!Long Live MU

Posted by Raizzen on 01/06/2011

Tuhin,

Nice analogy there. YEAH. Just imagince those 20 years of hurt. I wouldn't be able to survive that. Big ups to the faithful who were able to keep their heads up and Red themselves up when the times were hard.

Posted by ManUtd_86 on 01/06/2011

This has been a really open season. The overall standard of football has improved. WBA gave United a tough time when they played and it kept me and my mate on the edge of our seats.I'm glad we're much more consistent and not as injury stricken or divisive as other teams were. Looking forward to see the lads step up a gear for the next half of the season.

Posted by Nick-utd on 01/06/2011

People say MU are playing poor football, but they have not lost a game this season. True this is poor football compared to normal standards, but a win is a win, and first place is first place. If the young talent at MU can be in first place this season, i have only the highest hopes for next season.

Gibson, Hernandez, Smalling, Rafael, and Obertan will shine this season, and will onl do better in the seasons to come. while Cleverly, welbeck and macheda get first squad experience elsewhere when they return they will be ready to full the slots in manchester

Posted by awal on 01/08/2011

MU have not been consistent on their free following football this season. But overall we're getting results when it matters(except @ westham). It's a transition period 4 MU,good 2 watch the youth blend with the experienced players. The future is bright. United foreva.

Posted by fergie on 01/12/2011

I hope we can go d whole season unbeten. We are in great position. UP MU

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