|photo by edwin.11||via PhotoRee|
Another weekend, another footie match, and another opportunity for United to take its unbeaten status a game deeper into the EPL season. I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to tire a bit of the mainstream media and so-called pundits singling out this current United squad as "unworthy" of the credit due for going the first half of the season without so much as losing a single match -- it's way easier to focus on the nasty draws (Arsenal's "Invincibles" had 12 during their season, by the way), close calls, and the fact that this United team hasn't hit "top gear" yet, rather than on the fact they are leading a very competitive league by an undetermined number of points (due to their status atop the league table with game(s) in hand) and have yet to suffer a defeat -- actually, to be fair, they haven't suffered a setback in the league since April, vs. Chelsea, going back to last season.
But all the carping and moaning in the mainstream media and from opposing fans is misguided. I don't care if United goes undefeated this season, nor do I think that most Red supporters care. I'm much more keenly focused on the team gaining the points necessary to take title number 19, as well as going as deep as possible into the Champions League knock out rounds (when a bit of luck often decides the ultimate winner), than I am on United winning or drawing the rest of the games on their EPL season schedule.
In fact, I'll gladly trade a loss or two for both of those goals right now -- and who wouldn't? That's not to say I wouldn't be pleased if they remain undefeated, it's just to say that I think the goal is largely media-driven and highly unrealistic. I certainly don't think it's Sir Alex's target, and he's as competitive and goal-oriented as any man alive. The current United squad is an immensely deep and talented team, but certainly one which could lose on any given day; it's that kind of league this year, and after all -- it's football, bloody hell. And a loss could come as soon as this weekend, to a very good Spurs team playing home at White Hart Lane. But maybe it won't....
Maybe it won't because this is a United team that has an immense inner conviction in its ability to win any game, no matter the setting and scoreline. This kind of belief has allowed the team to win games in which they've been outplayed for 90 minutes (see United vs. West Brom) as well as games in which they need to score a couple late goals to secure a draw (see United vs. Aston Villa). And this kind of belief doesn't come cheaply; it comes through hard-earned experience. It starts at the very top -- this is still Fergie's team remember, and the manager has never been better in my opinion than in the current year -- and filters its way down through the squad to the newest and youngest players. It's the kind of belief that the current Arsenal squad keeps claiming they have but never will. And it's the kind of belief that can't be bought -- are you listening Sheikh Mansour?
So sit back United fans, and enjoy the spectacle. It may end sooner rather than later, but it's been wonderful while it's happening. This team is much better than they are given credit for, and I'll make a wager that they get stronger as the season goes on. They may lose a game or two, sure. But this United team is full of world class players -- Nani, Berba, Vida, Rio and Chicharito just to name a few -- and legends -- take a bow, Giggsy and Scholesy -- and they're gonna do something special this year. They may not be undefeated, but I do believe it will be a year to remember. Mark my words.
This is farlieonfootie for January 16.