We are all in the business of writing our own destinies and this last week saw Manchester United’s young team pen a mixed and rather painful chapter. Our club is not defined by the crowing of jealous opposing fans, nor by the excellence of our expensively assembled opponents, but by how we overcome hardship and turn setbacks into experience. The week has ended on a high note, and I for one choose to take that as a cue for optimism.
It seems absurd to talk about optimism in a week when Basel have put us out of the European Cup. However, it would be equally ridiculous not to look at things objectively either. No one thing is either the end of the world or the solution to all of our problems. This is why, although it would be nice to sign Wesley Sneijder, no single player will turn us into world beaters.
There are three things that will improve the current team. Time, patience and confidence. Fergie knows this and sticking four goals past Wolverhapmton Wanderers was exactly the best way to start. The crowd were terrific at OT on Saturday and the whole afternoon served as a reminder that this, more than usual, is a time to support the team rather than to complain.
We got exactly what we deserved on Wednesday and frankly, after watching the Clasico this weekend, avoiding the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona this year is probably no bad thing. Although nobody seems excited by it right now I also think it’s rather nice that Fergie will get a crack at the one trophy he hasn’t won as well. There is also the enormous consolation in City crashing out of the Champions’ League along with us. It is enough to turn me religious.
The footballing gods have us facing three teams in the bottom half of the table as we head towards Christmas and without the distraction of the League Cup. That sounds good, but they have also crocked our captain for the rest of the season.
The loss of Vidic has made a bad week dreadful. The captain is an immense presence but in Smalling and Jones I honestly feel that we have players who are capable of doing the job. It is up to them now to prove they can do so consistently.
Putting together a few victories with goals in them will heal all wounds as far as I am concerned. Fergie got it exactly right when he said; “A win like this puts us in fine fettle.” Dwelling on what might have been serves no purpose. United march on.
Follow Mark on twitter.com/markjpayne