Monday, 12 March 2018
Jose's evolving United on an undisputed upward trajectory
Despite the underachievement of a sixth placed Premier League finish during his debut, settling in season (even though only five league games were lost), Jose still put two major pieces of silverware - the EFL and Europa Cups - on the sideboard, a fantastic achievement for any club no matter their size or stature.
Since then, there have been real signs of progress with the team on an undoubted upward trajectory. Sitting pretty in second place in the table - albeit 13 points off the Premier League pace - and still in contention for a record equalling 13th FA Cup and a first Champions League quarter final since 2014, United look well set for a post-SAF high. Victory over Sevilla on Tuesday would seal that place in the last eight - a stage the Reds last reached in 2013/14 under David Moyes, when we went out to Bayern Munich despite a spirited showing over two legs. All things considered, that wouldn't be too shabby a season for a side supposedly in decline.
Our problem this season is that judgement of this evolving side has been compared to the incomparable, in the shape of Pep Guardiola and his sky blue juggernaut - such is City's overwhelming superiority that no one could ever have even got close to them this season. As painful as it is, metaphorical hats must be doffed to City, who only need four more wins to be crowned as dominant champions in one of the most flawless title-winning campaigns the Premier League has ever witnessed. No, we don't play the same brand of football that Guardiola's side have done, but then find me a team anywhere in the world that do? I rest my case. It's difficult to imagine that City can repeat the feat next term so, although Jose's record of never failing to win the league in his second season at a club will come to an end, the strides during taken this campaign will surely stand us in good stead. In any other season, take City out of the equation and it would be us sitting atop the table and on our way to the title. There is no disgrace at all in being runners-up to such a brilliant outfit.
The Liverpool tie had a bit of everything. Many expected Jose to sit tight and stifle from the off, but instead the Reds took them by surprise. The first half display of attacking pace and potency was one of the best we've seen all season from a United team. You only have to look at the stats from last season in contrast to this to know that Jose's United are growing by the week and building a platform for the future.