Now that the title is in the bag, I thought I'd have a look back at some of the defining factors that have made us Champions Again. There's plenty of time in the summer to address the improvements we shall have to make if we are to retain our title or achieve Sir Alex's dream of another European title. Regular readers of this blog will however be aware that yours truly only rates the League title as the benchmark of a season.
The reason is simple----I find no logic in claiming to be the best team in Europe when we're not the best in England. So Cup success of any kind has to come alongside the league title itself. It's why missing out on the Cups this season has not rubbed me badly as we always had the league title under our control.
This season's title will no doubt go down to Mr. RVP. Whereas the likes of Carrick, Rio and Rafael can pat themselves on the back having had 9/10 seasons, the invincibility that came with RVP's signing was so huge that it rubbed off well on the rest of the players in the team. When Wayne got that nasty injury on his thigh against Fulham, you wouldn't have noticed that we were losing our best player for the best part of 2 months at the time. If that had happened last season, we might have considered the white flag in October. Up stepped RVP and the rest is history. That hattrick against Southampton in a game we should have lost lifted squad spirits so much so that there was an air of inevitablility that we would come back in any game that we went behind. In fact, the only time the trick didn't work was in that unfortunate 2-3 defeat to Spurs ( because of the wood-work--haha!) and down at Norwich when RVP (for once) failed to connect with a first time volley twice on the night.
RVP's influence on the title makes one wonder at what might have been had we invested a little more on a box to box midfielder to replace Pogba.
Make no mistake, this current United team will be talked about in seasons to come simply because it will be tough for any team in future to match the statistical records that it has conjured up. The only reason it fell short in Europe is because of our limitations in the middle and hence our failure to retain possession as is required by the latest European style of football.
This is where Carrick needs the pat on the back as he has almost single-handedly ensured that we've had something close to a midfield this season. But what the signing of RVP did was to allow us play to our old fearless, no holds barred ways. That first half against Villa was reminiscent of our first half of the season. The manner in which we attacked Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool at Anfield, Newcastle at St James' Park and City at the Etihad were much like the Busby Babes would have done in 1957. The peak of all that was the Boxing Day 4-3 win against Newcastle when we were behind three times in the match but pushed and pushed and pushed until that now customary last minute winner came. It was amazing!
Signing another striker when we already had Wayne, Welbz and Chicharito (God bless him) always meant that United were going to win this title by outscoring the opposition. The failure to improve defensive midfield meant that there was no point in defending. Attack was the only means at our disposal and boy did we have fun. Yes, we did not (at least not yet) register a 5-0 win but we had a few threes and fours in there that made for such astonishing games of you score two--we score three. We were all to glad to play this Busby game with just about any side in the league to the extent that after half an hour at Reading, they'd got three, we'd got four!
I don't know about many other Reds fans around the world but that first half of the season was some cable entertainment for me. It's not that I do not spill my drink in anger when we concede, but that whenever we did, my mid quickly focussed on RVP-ROO and in a few winces, all as well again! How Real Madrid survived a good thumping of goals in that home leg, I don't know but for all our weaknesses in the middle, we were not made to look as bleak as we were when Barcelona had us for dinner in those two finals.
Add Strootman, Rodriguez and Garray to this team and I tell you, we could be something to reckon with next year.
Enjoy #20 Reds, for it's been one of those rides we shall look back on with envy next season. It will be a much stronger challenge for us next season but I trust that the manager will read that second last paragraph over the summer to ensure that in the least, we shall still be Champions of England this time next year.
Labels: MANCHESTER UNITED, REVIEWS