It would be the greatest title won by Manchester United if they are to become Premier League champions next May. United currently sit 13 points behind league leaders Arsenal, they have won just 6 of their 15 games in the Premier League to date and appear to be struggling in the aftermath of Alex Ferguson’s retirement. Of the eight teams sitting above them United have only beaten league leaders Arsenal, a result at the time that looked to have shot United into title contention.
What is of concern is that they have lost home games to West Brom, Everton and Newcastle, as well as dropping two points at home to Southampton. This season United have been consistently inconsistent with the confidence one would have in them picking up 3 points not there this season. Teams are coming to Old Trafford and feeling like they can get something from the game, unheard of in the Ferguson era.
It should be noted that United’s Champions League form has been excellent with 4 wins and 2 draws ensuring qualification for the last 16 as group winners. The concern is that if United do not pick up form on the domestic front, that Champions League football may not be coming to Old Trafford next season.
This bad run of results in the league has come about by being dominated in midfield. It is no coincidence that Michael Carrick has been out during this time. Carrick has been widely criticised as not being a top drawer player and does not pass with adventure. But when Carrick plays he gets on the ball and ensures it goes to a red shirt, something that has been missing in United’s play of late. He may be safe but you can only score if you have the ball. Carrick is an instrumental player for United and it is only in his absence that people may start to realise it.
United also have players that they need to offload to allow some quality to be brought in. Ashley Young is looking like he is struggling under the expectancy of playing for United. Nani is hot and cold so opinion is divided on whether he should remain, if a high quality replacement was brought in then it would probably be approved by most fans. It is clear United need a centre back who can play week in week out, Vidic and Ferdinand can no longer be relied upon to play in a consistent number of games. Smalling, Evans and Jones are good defenders but need to have a stable senior figure beside them at all times. Evra’s defensive powers are waning and the jury is out on whether Buttner is up to the challenge of being the first choice left back. Up front United are strong with Rooney and van Persie but the problem is getting them the ball. This should improve when Carrick returns but at a club like United they should have players capable of doing this when one player is out.
Winning the league seems like a distant possibility but not impossible. United have played all of the other perceived title contenders, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, the latter two maybe not title contenders but are tough Champions League opposition. All of the aforementioned teams still have games left to play against each other so there will be some dropped points for these teams. United will have to go on a winning run for the rest of December to put themselves in the hunt at the turn of the year. With games against Aston Villa, West Ham, Hull and Norwich, United should be able to do that
At Manchester United winning the Premier League is always what is played for. To answer the question United start playing for fourth if there is still a double digit gap at the turn of the year