Are Manchester United back?

Photo It has been a frustrating ten years to be a United fan

Since Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United in 2013, it has been largely a period of disappointment for the club and its fans. Ten years featuring seven managers, a few highlights, but mainly anger, frustration and even disillusionment. What progress there has been has subsequently turned out to be false dawns. Don’t forget, it was not that long ago that the side were being humbled by Brentford.

New expectations

So what is happening at the moment at Old Trafford should be looked at with all of that in mind. That said, this does look a little different. The busiest football betting markets are suddenly those for United to get a top two finish, or even higher. The club that people were expecting to finish sixth in August and as low as twelfth last September are now in a position where anything less than third would be a disappointment. They have also secured the season’s first piece of silverware and beaten the runaway leaders in Spain over two legs, coming from behind twice.

Some people will disagree, but the EPL needs a strong Manchester United. Like it or not, Manchester United are one of, if not the biggest club in world sport, not just football. Even when they haven’t won any silverware for more than half a decade what happens in the red half of Manchester, or even what does not happen, is back page news, sometimes even front page news.

Winning mentality

Photo Are United marching back to the good times?

At the height of their success, Ferguson’s United simply knew how to win. Fergie Time has morphed into a slightly different meaning over the years, but in reality, it was his sides’ ability to win games from positions when a draw or even a loss looked on the cards. Once again history is often looked at with a nostalgic, red tinted glasses, but those United sides weren’t teams capable of beautiful flowing football. They had some brilliant players, who played very well together, and for each other.

That is where Erik ten Hag needs to get to. Trying to emulate what the noisy neighbours have achieved is pointless and futile. And the good news for United fans is that he seems to be a long way on the road to getting there. His Manchester United team at the minute may not be the prettiest in the league, but they are able to get the win at the end of the 90 minutes (or 98 minutes…).

They also have, in Marcus Rashford, a striker in the form of his life who knows he is going to score every time he gets on the pitch. They even seem to have solved the problem in defence that has hampered the progress of successive managers.

Start of the journey

Winning the Carabao Cup, knocking out Barcelona, even winning the Europa League would not be success in itself. Those things would have been a given in years gone by, but they certainly show that United have put themselves in a place where instead of people talking about them in terms of what has gone wrong, they are asking what they may achieve.

Ten Hag has said that this is where the hard work starts, and it does look like the players he has around him are committed to putting in that hard graft. That was something where Mourinho and Solskjær ultimately failed. One fly in the ointment could be timing. The EPL at the moment, and probably for the foreseeable future, looks like it will be one with Manchester City, Arsenal and Newcastle competing for that top couple of places. Liverpool and Chelsea will be hoping to become a force once more while Spurs may expect to be part of the conversation as well. It is congested up there, more so than it has been for years, perhaps ever.

But all of that is out of Manchester United’s control. If they continue to do what they have been doing, continue to improve as they have, not just for the next few games but for the next few months, even seasons, then they can truly claim to be back.

Are Manchester United back?

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