Manchester United are back to winning ways once again and even more interestingly back to their arrogant, cool and dominant style of play.
Their current run of 11 unbeaten games hasn’t been seen by the Old Trafford faithful since the glory days of Sir Alex Ferguson, a run that Jose Mourinho will be looking to extend when Liverpool come to visit next Sunday.
The recent games against West Ham and Middlesborough may have not been the most exciting or attractive games, but what we are seeing is a mentally that has been missing from Manchester United’s game since Sir Alex left. The arrogant, attacking style; winning games with last minute goals and a few decisions going your way is what kept the Red Devils a dominant side for the first 20 years of the Premier League and under Mourinho, the fire is roaring once more.
Watching this team develop over the season has been a fascinating experience, the confidence levels have boomed, the goals are well worked and that mind-set that “we cannot, and will not lose” has been instilled into all of the players.
The stand out performers have undoubtedly been Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. These players have been in complete control for this run of matches and have dominated games both on and off the ball. I was at the Hawthorns a few weeks ago for a midweek game and the presence of these three players was phenomenal. Every play, pass and attack was somehow formulated by one of these players either with their feet or with their vocal chords. From the stands you could hear Michael Carrick shouting to players around him, Herrera and Pogba both benefit from this as they can play the ball without taking that extra second to look up and make any decisions, which allows for Zlatan to make those killer runs in-behind the defence.
One of the biggest games of the season is coming up this weekend and will be a tell-all 90 minutes about how United will make their way through the rest of the season. Liverpool come to Old Trafford on the back of a 2-2 draw with David Moyes’ relegation bound Sunderland and looked lacklustre and tired from a busy festive period. If Manchester United can get a win from this fixture, extending their winning run to 7 games in the Premier League then the top four won’t just be the only thing in their sights at the end of May.
With the transfer window opening and rumours flying around of top European players like Antoine Griezmann and James Rodriguez in the pipeline it’s easy for fans to get excited by the future but as Alex Ferguson said “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles”. This team has plenty of talented defenders, bit the only ones that have any potential to be world class are Eric Bailey and Luke Shaw. Darmian, Jones, Rojo, Smalling and Valencia are all Europa League players at best and that just isn’t where United are aiming to be right now. So although, these attacking players bring flair and shirt sales, a strong defence with strong, consistent players is the foundations of a threatening title challenge.