Monday 9 April 2018

Jose's United on course for best post Sir-Alex season

United's dramatic, never-to-be-forgotten derby win turned the tables on City, ruined their big day and cemented the Reds status as best of the rest. Second may not be what we set out for, but there's no disgrace in finishing there, considering how dominantly impressive the champions elect have been. It would represent our highest Premier League position since the 2013 retirement of Sir Alex, under whom United never finished lower than third. In the four seasons since, we've wound up in seventh, fourth, fifth and sixth under three different bosses - alien territory for a club of our size and stature. Alien territory for a club accustomed to fighting all the way at the upper echelons of English football's elite. The league title has remained frustratingly out of reach in Jose's second campaign at the helm, but there can be no debating that the team's improvement has been marked.
United currently sit second on 71 points, four clear of closest challengers Liverpool with a game in hand. Having already surpassed last season's tally of 69, should we win our last six ties we'd end up with 89 points, enough to sit top of the pile in any other season. Indeed, that was our haul the last time we lited the trophy in Sir Alex's final 2012-13 farewell. Putting that in context, 89 points would crown you as champions for 21 of the 25 Premier League seasons and each of the last ten.
It's just our luck that City look set to become the first team to break the 100-point barrier and smash several other existing top flights records on their way to doing so. This term also sees a new high in terms of wins and goals scored too, coupled with the beating of each of the top six sides in a single season for the first time in the post-Ferguson era. We've largely boasted a miserly defence in 2017-18, with only 25 conceded, but that column last time out stood at 29 from the entire 38-game programme - our best since the 2011/12 season - so the side will have to go some during the run-in this time to eclipse that statistic. 

 The Reds stuttered and drew their way to a disappointing sixth last term despite only losing five games - the same number as this season. The difference though, lies with the 15 draws and only 18 wins. We picked up 20 wins from our 38 league games in 2014/15 - Louis van Gaal's first in charge - but have surpassed that with plenty to spare this time, with 22 victories to our name with a month of the season still to go, scoring 63 goals in the process - one short so far of our previous high, the 64 in the David Moyes campaign. At the corresponding stage last season after 32 games ,we were fifth in the table with 17 wins and 63 points. Whichever way you want to look at it - and there are plenty of doom-mongering naysayers, this has been a campaign of huge progress. Our win over City also saw us hit heights not reached since two years before SAF called it a day. It marked the first time we've beaten every other Premier League opponent at least once in a single season since the 2010-11 title-winning term. Yet more evidence of this side's upward trajectory. We may have to settle for second this time, but than in itself is an achievement, and it sends out a message ahead of 2018-19 that we're a team on a mission to go one better.

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