This year’s title race has proven to be one for the ages. With United and City trading blows like two heavyweight boxers, fans have a mouthwatering two months left of the season to look forward to.
With five games left before the two juggernauts of English football face off at the Etihad Stadium, United will have to be ruthless, relentless and merciless if they want to win yet another Barclays Premier League title. “Squeaky bum time,” it most certainly is!
Much has been made out of United’s final eight games. Strangely, an away trip to Ewood Park has recently become a “definite three points” in the minds of many even though Blackburn won the game at Old Trafford on New Year’s Eve, to add to the fact that United have not won at Ewood Park since 2008.
This complacency is what many believe cost United a spot amongst Europe’s elite in the knockout stages of the Champions League and judging by the way some people perceive the remaining fixtures, it seems that for some United fans may have failed to learn their lesson.
It has to be emphasized that there are no easy games during the run-in, something United nearly realised all the quickly after having to battle hard to gain all three points against Fulham. As the season draws to a close, almost every team improves in some way, due to their increased work rate and determination, driven by their increased realization of impending gloom or doom and, regardless of which end of the spectrum they are at, every team wants to end on a high note.
Some may say Manchester City have a tough schedule from now on, seeing as they have to go the Emirates and get something against Arsenal but I would also say that United have a tough schedule too, playing against teams who are fighting for survival.
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To add to that, it’s never easy being the favorites, even though we are obviously accustomed to it, because when the underdog puts hid back against the wall, he can surprise you and come out swinging; fighting and battling for every bit of possession, every ball and every blade of grass.
Personally, I still have nightmares about Antonio Valencia missing ‘that’ one-on-one with Paul Robinson at Ewood Park in 2010. That game ended in a goalless draw and was the reason why Chelsea climbed past us in the title race and were eventually crowned champions.
Those are the types of moments that we need to be wary of. Manchester United have always carried the moniker of being a club who are relentless in their quest for success and that needs to be maintained, especially at places such as Ewood Park and the DW Stadium.
To paraphrase Al Pacino’s infamous motivational speech in the movie, Any Given Sunday;
“in any fight, it’s the guy who’s willing to die who’s going to win”.
At this time of the season, it’s time to stop talking about next year, last year, injuries, bad refs and all the other excuses. It’s about going out, and getting the job done and if there’s one team in the world who knows how to do just that, it’s Manchester United.
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Written by Jonas, who also appears on our weekly Man United Podcast regularly.