So let's put a bit of the season into perspective here; we're still in the running for three trophies heading at the end of February, four points clear at the summit of the league, with a surely winnable FA Cup fifth round tie to come on Saturday plus another negotiable Champions League tie against Olympic Marseilles also on the horizon.
It's fair to say that so far, the season as gone pretty much according to plan---I mean we've only suffered two defeats in all competitions and yet we've had nearly 7 months of football. But it's that time the season again--squeaky bum time! A time when you have to get your priorities right lest you lose all. It all usually comes down to how large and effective a squad you've got.
As far as United is concerned, we have one of the larger squads in the league but its fair to say that our central midfield has not yet started their season. It remains a weak spot in an otherwise good team that you expect stronger opponents to exploit as the games become of more importance. I mean Fletcher and Carrick have been just below their potential whilst Anderson (and to be fair like most of the team) seems to play blinders only at home. Scholes has been injured but he remains irreplaceable in the team.
It's why the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City must be cursing how on earth United are top of the league and are this difficult to beat.
The one bit that has helped patch up the shortcomings of our central midfield is that we've got results from our wingers despite the long term injury suffered by Valencia. Nani, Giggs and Park have come up with the goods on such a consistent basis that we've not felt Valencia's loss as much as we should have---well, maybe Rooney has, but it's been a breath of fresh air for us that that trio has a brilliant tally of goals and assists for us this term.
Now with that in mind, it becomes gutting to learn that Park will be out of action for a month after injuring himself in training. That blow is softened by Valencia's return to training. One really hopes that Park does return fresh enough to spur us on in the final month of the season.
By prioritising what we need to achieve at the end of the season, we can avoid the nightmare of last season of playing three crucial games in a week. Last season, we were essentially done by playing Bayern away, Chelsea at home and Bayern home. Technically, we lost all three games but I wonder if at the time, the league game against Chelsea was an academic one whether we would find it easier negotiating past Bayern in the Champions League.
I think we have a better chance of doing that this year. I mean the priority is the league and we still have a relatively fragile lead but focusing on extending our lead against Arsenal to at least 7 points going into April will give us that much needed breathing space to, if necessary, divert more resources to the FA Cup or Europe. If the league remains as tight as it is, then I'd like to think that the manager will only direct his resources to ensuring we win that 19th title.
I'm sure the fans would take the league over anything else this season.
We've got ourselves a difficult run in in the league so we need to hold our nerve as Arsenal will be getting more motivated if the gap between us and them becomes smaller. This is the point in the season when I'd hoped that we'd have Hargo and Valencia to give us that bit of extra dimension to see us over the line. I really hope we can have them both between now and May.
What's for sure though is that it's going to be a bumpy stormy ride. Whether we pull through intact and dry is the question. We shall see.