As Bob Dylan once sang, “The times they are a-changing”. United are no longer comfortable in
It isn’t hard to find positives for United. So far this season United have played 7 of the top 10 – and another one being ourselves – whilst City still have Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and even Stoke away to go. By New Years, there is every chance we will have caught City up and possibly even overtaking and then we can buy a centre midfielder (let me dream, I know it won’t happen) – with Javi Martinez, Yann M’Vila and Danielle De Rossi all possibilities who could be registered for the later stages of the Champions League, assuming United get there which is by no means a certainty if we keep playing with the same complacency that has marked our games since Bolton. On top of this, we are currently 5 points behind City, a concerning margin. Yet last season, we were 6th and 8 points behind – albeit with a game in hand. It is hardly the time to assume all is lost.
The main position of envy for United fans is City’s midfield. Their defence is no better than ours, the amount of goals conceded is more down to the shocking lack of cover from our midfield, with fans favourite Michael Carrick the only natural defensive midfielder in the squad who, by Sir Alex’s own admission, “doesn’t get going until later on in the season”. In between the sticks, Joe Hart is a better keeper than David De Gea at this point but by no means is it a massive gap. As for attack, Aguero and Rooney are their teams talismans up top, in the top 3 in the Prem with Arsenal’s brilliant Robin Van Persie, and City have startling options in the mercurial but brilliant Mario Balotelli and the inconsistent Edin Dzeko whose mood and confidence dictates whether he’s a Heskey or Drogba. However, in Welbeck, Chicharito, Berbatov and Owen, we aren’t exactly lacking ourselves. The midfields are, however, classes apart. This was a point emphatically proven when Samir Nasri trotted off the bench. A player who would start for United coming on as his team were walking over us 3-0. United are crying out for a Yaya Toure or a Nigel De Jong to cover our defence.
The question being asked now is how to go improving the midfield. There are those who advocate buying quick and some who think we shouldn’t, just to let Morrison, Pogba, Tunnicliffe and Cleverley advance. Whilst not wanting to get too much into it, the main danger is that, without investment, City could run away with Premier League titles, never mind European football. As the ever spot-on Samuel Luckhurst pointed out, United are no longer the third favourites in
By Diarmaid Hill (Follow me on Twitter)