1. No 1 at Christmas
It’s a familiar sight. Manchester United, top of the tree at Christmas. It’s been far from pretty so far this season; we’ve had some ups and downs. We’ve been unlucky with injuries and we’ve certainly ridden our luck at times, but traditionally we’ve grinded out results and this season’s been no different. The critics will say we’re lucky but we’re just doing what we’ve done for years, doing what we need to. We’ve barely got going this season, cruising in second gear and as we’re starting to hit a bit of form, we’re in a prime position come the New Year.
2. Fergie is the master at protecting his players
By his incredibly high and impressive standards I thought Robin van Persie had another quiet day so it was no surprise that Sir Alex Ferguson came out so forcefully after the game to protect his star signing from the kick to the head he suffered from Ashley Williams. It was stupid from Williams as it was a definite foul on the Dutchman but when I heard the comments afterwards, I have to say I wasn’t as irate as Ferguson. It was close to his head and I was angry when I saw the replay but I think what Ferguson was doing was a mix of protecting his player in case he came in for criticism for his reaction to the incident and also pointing out how easy it could have been for him to get injured and what a devastating affect that would have on United and our dreams of wrestling back our title.
3. Not such a bad point
The draw with Swansea is one of those results we could look back on at the end of the season and say ‘that’s where the title was won’. The Liberty is a tough place to go and not many teams will come away from there with much against Michael Laudrup’s side. Last year Arsenal and City both lost and we were perhaps fortunate to have come away from South Wales with all three points. Despite the fact United dominated the game and did enough to get the points on this occasion too, Swansea stood up to our challenge and it’s a point we could come to appreciate come the end of the season.
4. What’s up with Valencia?
Whenever I’ve seen him this season, Antonio Valencia has mystified me. Capable of such brilliance, he seems to hesitate to shred defenders to bits. He’s such an outlet for us and a great worker who is blessed with pace but for me, this season, he just seems to not believe in his ability. More often than not he’ll cut back inside and look for the pass or drop it off to a supporting full back rather than tear the opposition full back a new one. It’s worrying slightly and I can’t quite put my finger on it. He showed glimpses on Sunday but he’s such a talent he really should be being talked up as one of our most dangerous weapons every single game but defenders are getting an easy ride so far this season. Hopefully he’ll start 2013 on fire.
5. The fringe players need more game time
It’s been the Fatman and Robin show for the last few weeks and when Wayne Rooney and van Persie have been hitting such highs it’s hard to not start them, but I think Sunday showed that Fergie can’t rely on Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck to just turn it on when the first choice strikers have an off day. Welbeck hasn’t featured in a while and when he does it’s mainly on the flanks to stretch teams late in games. He’s also not scoring frequently so that coupled with not seeing a lot of game time can’t be doing much for his confidence. Hernandez seems to be more effective coming off the bench, changing games late on and destroying defences with his clever runs and pace. He seems less able to affect a game when he starts but perhaps over the festive period, with games coming thick and fast, it will be the case that we see more of them. For strikers it’s all about goals and one goal for either of them could spark their season.
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