A Word Of Caution For United
24 goals, 0 defeats, the future of the team sorted and an attacking philosophy to make the purists purr with delight – on the face of it United have it all sorted with just a handful of Premier League games gone and an international break to reflect on their own success.
However, the dizzying highs of the 8-2 victory over Arsenal have been tempered by the cautionary tales offered up by draws against Stoke and Basel and the hard-fought victory over Norwich. They remain unbeaten, but before a toast is raised for the 20th title, a word of warning for all United fans who may be getting carried away.
Such is football in the modern era that a player thrust into the limelight is no sooner basking in his new found success than being handed a crown of thorns to don; they build them up only to knock them swiftly back down to the ground. Similarly with the whole team, if most pundits are to be believed then the title is already grasped by Manchester fingers after just seven games.
United are lucky enough to have a handful of young men who have been lavished with such praise, and who will no doubt go on to form the core of the champions for years to come. Indeed, it is incredibly easy to buy into and be consumed by the hype, so when the likes of Phil Jones and Tom Cleverly are fast-tracked into the England set up it is to be expected rather than coming as a surprise.
But as the games have come and gone this season, adjectives unpleasant to the ear, such as cavalier, naïve and vulnerable (especially at the back), have served to pull United down from the clouds and back to reality.
Against Basel, recent concerns that were previously bubbling came to the surface; the Swiss champions carved through United’s defence at times. Similarly Norwich winger Anthony Pilkington could have had a hat-trick on another day as the platitudes began to dry up.
Everything is on course for another historic season, something which is made all the more impressive by the fact that this campaign also marks the blooding of a new generation of United players – however, the fact that the likes of Jones, Cleverly, Welbeck and Young have demonstrated their talents so far doesn’t mean to say that they will be able to do so throughout the season.
They have impressed perhaps even more than their own manager thought they could – they have raised the bar for themselves and given themselves an unimaginably high watermark to try and match every time they pull on a football shirt.
All the ingredients are there in the long run, but patience is needed with the new crop. Consistency comes with experience and to appreciate the highs they must stumble and fall. So be patient United fans, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Written by Pete South