Monday, 18 December 2017

We are Man United... we'll fight to the end

United have made their best start to a season since the last time we won the league in the 2012/13 campaign, yet City hold a commanding eleven point lead and look nailed on for the title. Leagues are not won in December, but they certainly can be lost. There's the gathering theme that everyone - from other sides, pundits, the media and even themselves - have  crowned Pep Guardiola's side as champions far too early. We're not yet even at the halfway point of the season and, even though they've won 16 successive league games, there's still a long way to go.

It's been a very annoying season so far for us  - in any other season our tally of 41 points from 18 games would be enough to put us top of the table. At this time last year, Antonio Conte's Chelsea had accumulated 43 points and held a nine point lead at the summit on their way to winning the league. The season before, eventual champions Leicester were top with a paltry 35, six less than our current total, and they won it with 81 points. Even the Arsenal Invincible team of the 2003/04 season had 42 points at this stage. We're eight points better off ourselves than we were after 18 games of 2016-17. It's just our luck that we've run into a Manchester City side who look set to send all opponents - and records - tumbling. Their haul of 52 points is a record at this stage of a season and no side has ever won 16 successive Premier League matches until now. It hurts to see them playing at an astronomical level never witnessed before in English football and their dominance is hard to stomach, but credit has to be given where it's due - despite the fact they've only spent in the region of £500m in doing so.

It's typical of our fortunes over the last few years that in the season that we find ourselves challenging for the league again, our main rivals have proved to be an irresistible force and a winning machine that no side could keep pace with. At the moment, it's hard to see them slipping up even slightly, but we are Manchester United and cannot give up just yet on the title challenge. All we can do is keep winning, continue to do our own job and worry about ourselves. Everything else that unfolds is out of our control. Since losing the derby, United have responded with two narrow and hard fought victories that will give the team and Jose huge satisfaction. Jose said after the victory at West Brom that the Reds won't celebrate too early, which seemed a dig at City and Pep after their over-exuberant (but understandable) celebrations following the derby win. That fact is giving Jose and the players an added motivation to push the neighbours all the way.  The players are giving absolutely everything and doing us proud - but at the moment, there is simply nothing we can do with City clearly on a different level to the rest.

But Jose will demand that United do not relent, keep winning and pushing in the hope that the champions elect have been proclaimed too early.

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