Saturday was all about the three points. Thankfully, given the manner in which we secured the points, you hope that we've taken more than three points from the game. The difference between this season and last season is that we often out-scored the opposition last term whilst this term, we've found it that much harder to even break down teams.
Think back to last season and remember that we started just about every game of the first half of the season a goal down. At one point we were even 3-2 down in a first half (vs Reading Away), but still managed to win the half 4-3. This season though, it's been much harder for us to out-score the opposition. It's why hearts sank when Stoke went 2-1 up. That we eventually managed to turn it around in the last fifteen minutes means that the players have summoned one or two traits of the Ferguson script and used it to overcome adversity.
You hope that that belief remains a part of the ethos at the club this season as well. It will hold them in good stead for the rest of the campaign.
In terms of the game proper, it was slightly worrying that we kept turning to the wings to score against a team that is full of 6ft plus players. In that respect, I thought Kagawa struggled to have the midfield-probing impact that he did in the Champions League on Tuesday. I still think the manager should stick with him, as given the game plan, it was Nani who turned out to be the biggest disappointment as he failed to turn in a decent cross. His inconsistency remains a trait that is yet to leave him. Valencia on the other hand seemed to carry his European form into the match and so one should understand if the manager starts him for the next league outing. The frustrating thing is that most of our players seem to play well when axed from the starting XI and perform incredibly poorly when restored. It's incredibly frustrating.
In the grand scheme of things, we're better off winning after playing badly. Evra has asked that we go on a 10 match winning run and I agree if we are to challenge for the title. We shall, however, need to play to greater urgency and fight than we've been showing up lately. I still think that the players need to play for the manager a bit more than they're doing. This season was never about wining anything, but about showing how the club responds in times of uncertainty. As fans we're not pleased when our side comes short of honours, but we're even more displeased by that failure to put up a fight, to show up the United colours. Even in defeat, our competition must know that we were there, not putting up a disappearance act in the middle of the league table.
The win keeps us 8th, but the placing doesn't matter if the points are being posted. Next up is Norwich at home in the league Cup---a home tie means that it should be negotiable; then its Fulham away in the league; a game whose importance I shall explain later in the week.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!