Looking at the table, it seems too good to be true. At the beginning of the season we where labeled as being a team in transit and that our ambitions would be to make the top three. However, with United beating Sunderland 3-0 and producing some good football, this win was massive, as it gave fans the extra buzz and believe that United may have what it takes to succeed.
It’s been two years since United fans were able to get emotionally involved with how England’s title-chasing teams are doing because their team hasn’t been one of them in that time. As a general feeling, last season, for example, it made little difference if Chelsea were losing as they were already so far ahead. Not now, though. The champions who finished 17 points ahead of United in 2014-15 are already eight behind Louis van Gaal’s side after only seven games. And I admit for once, I was itching for Chelsea and Manchester City to lose points on every occasion, just as the days when United used to fight for top honours.
Chelsea’s poor start is very surprisingly poor and they are having a difficult time and the pressure is only growing on them day after day. However, under the stewardship of Mourinho, they will make a comeback and some point during the season. With United, as is, being top of the Premier League table only three games after a defeat at Swansea, which left them five points behind then-leaders Manchester City, was really unthinkable. However, the benchmark club will always be Manchester City as in the past seasons they have always won the league or have been there or there abouts.
City’s second successive loss and United’s third straight league win — and the third in which three goals were scored — meant the Reds returned to the top of the table for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson departed as manager in 2013.
The first game of the season (and first win) against Villa, I do not think that United got out of first gear. Considering the disastrous start we had last year, the first game of the season has become an important date for United. As Van Gaal put it, it will set up the season. A solitary goal from Januzaj was enough for United to come on top that day.
We then had a good win in the Champions league against Brugges, considering we where behind in the first few minutes. In the return leg, the team played exceptionally well, where we beat the Belgians four nil and Rooney’s hattrick and quality of his goals stood out that day.
Perhaps the biggest disappointing result of the season was the draw at home to Newcastle. It was important for United to get off to a good start, and dropping two points against the bottom side of the table was a major disappointment.
I feel that we played Swansea at the worst possible moment. They had an excellent start to the season including outplaying Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and it made for a now too familiar result with Swansea. They have beaten us in the last four games, and slowly they are becoming our bogey team! The day started well, and United went in the lead with a great strike from Herrera but Swansea who played really well that day struck back twice and Romero had no chance with the goals they scored.
SO after losing against Swansea, the morale of the team was low, and to make matters worse there was also the international break. We then played Liverpool, and we where all unsure of how the team was going to perform, but it was a ‘Van Gaal’ performance with United, as usual, dominating midfield.
That week, being transfer deadline day, United made a surprise move for Monaco forward Anthony Martial, who has had an amazing start to his Manchester career. I think that he has transformed the reds, in that he has given pace and power to United’s attack, and more importantly giving the team more balance so that the likes of Mata, Rooney and Memphis could play to their strengths.
Against Liverpool, we won 3-1 and Martial made a massive impact that day. Bare PSV, where we outplayed our opponents, and had Luke Shaw suffering by picking up a broken fibula and tibula in his leg, the game was a bit irrelevant from that aspect. Luke Shaw showed some great promise, and it was a travesty for him to pick up that injury at a time when it seemed that he was destined to reach the top and be a regular for England.
Wins against Southampton, Ipswich (league cup), Sunderland and Wolfsburg followed, where United played well and good attacking football was witnessed too. The team all of a sudden, is starting to click slowly slowly. It is also good to point out that United had a very important game against Wolfsburg and credit to the team as we managed to come back from being a goal down after four minutes. That game, we played some fantastic football, and the only worry was that in the last twenty minutes the team looked fatigued, and with the mental pressure of being a must win game. It must be noted, that Wolfsburg are no pushovers, and they came second in the previous year in the Bundesliga. They also have some top notch quality players and I think the team did well that day.
Playing 4-5-1 in lurid away shirts, Sunderland came to avoid defeat at a venue where they’d won once in the league since 1968. Since then they have often frustrated United and, for almost the entire first half, they repeated the feat.
An injury meant the half was extended by five minutes and it was in that time that United scored. Again. Intentional or not, goals keep coming after 48 or 49 minutes.
It happened in Bruges, at Swansea and against Liverpool and again on Saturday, when Juan Mata controlled another splendid ball from Daley Blind and selflessly set up Memphis Depay for his first league goal in red.
Captain Wayne Rooney then got his first league goal of the season in front of the Stretford End just after the break. It was his 171st for United and equalled the mark of Denis Law, the original king of the famous stand.
I would also like to mention Juan Mata, who has had an excellent start and is a catalyst this year.
United are improving steadily. Fans know the football is far from vintage, but nor was it every week under any previous manager. The first-half performance against Sunderland was lethargic, as United dominated possession but barely threatened to score. But it’s more than enough for now and there’s a tentative feeling that the team is heading in the right direction under Van Gaal.
United’s coach considers himself a lucky man and he tells people that, so let’s see how his fortunes fare as his side’s games get noticeably harder. United have played the three bottom-placed teams in the league so far, yet only one of the top seven. Unlike his predecessor Moyes, Van Gaal has been blessed with relatively gentle starts in both his seasons at the helm. October will be a massive month when United travel to Arsenal, Everton and play City at home on the back from an away champions league game against CSKA Moscow. Fingers crossed so that we can come out of October with a bang.