Manchester United missed the chance to put some real pressure on early season pace-setters Chelsea with a disappointing draw at Sunderland. But perhaps a more worrying consequence to come from the game for Sir Alex Ferguson was the desperately below par performance of his side.
In normal circumstances I suppose a point at the Stadium of Light is not a bad point. Steve Bruce is building a good strong squad on Wearside, and this was empathised by the introduction of the clubs record signing Asamoah Gyan as second half substitute.
But it was the fact that a win would have really added some pressure on Carlo Ancelotti’s side ahead of Chelsea’s London derby with Arsenal. I know it is very much early days as far as the Premier League title race goes, but you have to feel that United to take these opportunities to add pressure, because if they don’t Chelsea could run away with the league.
Instead of putting in a real positive display, United were negative and perhaps lucky to escape with a point. It is now four away games without a win, for a side which won 11 of the 19 Premier League games away from Old Trafford last season, a record which was the best in the league.
Trips to Fulham, Everton, Bolton and Sunderland aren’t the easiest of games by any means, but you have to feel that United would have expected at least one win out of these four games. To put the results in to some perspective, they are two points down on the six points they picked up from the same games last season.
Ferguson himself declared himself satisfied with the point at Sunderland saying: “We had to defend very well and the pleasing thing for me is that the back four were fantastic,” said Ferguson.”The consistency of not losing is something we can take. I am not pleased but I am satisfied.”
But the simple fact of the matter is that United will not win the league if they don’t start picking up wins away from home. This might sound overly dramatic after just four away games but for the top team only the best results will do, at the moment United are picking up the best results.