If ever we needed a moment to truly find out when the Manchester United of old was back, Sunday was surely it. Forget Louis van Gaal and tactics, Sunday was about passion, verve, a will to win---traits that whichever side demonstrated in abundance would win the match.
United and City are both suspect defensively and so it was never going to be about which side kept out the other, but about which side wanted it more. When Sergio Aguero made it 1-0 City inside 8 minutes, you could immediately see that this was set up to be a high scoring affair. It made for a brilliant spectacle because City relied on recent history to get at United right from the off, while United, all too aware of City's deficiencies and exuding a belief in them were not about to hang around and tend to the problems at the back. Therein lies the mental shift of the old United.
We can now say that Louis van Gaal has not only brought United back to playing exhilarating football, but has also successfully planted seeds of belief among the players. Going behind that early against a side that has dominated this fixture recently was a test that could have easily been failed by the United we've come to fear for in games of this magnitude. The hunger and desire shown by Ashley Young in particular in that opening 20 minute period was a joy to behold. The England winger has really come leaps and bounds from his form last season and suddenly he is dislodging talent worth 60m quid from the team and putting in man of the match performances in games of this magnitude. He is very much up there in the reckoning for Player of the Season.
It is though about the collective unit as it is about individuals in this United side. Questions will abound when decisions have to be made about places in the first team for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria, and Robin van Persie in the near future, but the side that has gate-crashed United into a late summit tussle with Arsenal for the runners-up spot has hardly put a foot wrong to warrant being changed for individuals. Certainly, at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, bar any late injuries during the week, the vote lies firmly in keeping the side unchanged.
Why? Because the would-be vulnerable people in the side are in fact our best performers. Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Ashley Youn and Marouanne Fellaini are performing at a level that none of the replacements from the bench can guarantee so it's really a no brainer! If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
Nine point from games against Spurs, Liverpool and City is a dream scenario. Not even the most optimistic fan had United down for that tally after that run of games. Champions League football is virtually secure now. In beating each of the sides in that run of games, United have secured one place after another. With third place in the bag now, the task very much shifts to second place, a feat that is very much within our means considering that: A) Arsenal are the ones occupying that position and B) That we are just one point off them.
Talk of the title has to be tempered for now, but United have the opportunity to build on the belief in the side ahead of a season in which they shall be required to win the title. Beating all the top sides in the division is one way to about it and United are making it one hell of a ride for fans so far!
Supremacy in the England has recently been synonymous with supremacy in the City of Manchester. Whereas it might not be the case this year in terms of the league title, it's certainly great to have the City back. Manchester is once again, UNITED!