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