After watching Sunday’s remarkable clash between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, I was left in awe at the fighting qualities United have in abundance. For a team minus ten first team regulars including Vidic, Fletcher, Jones, Nani and Smalling, United still managed to display the courage of champions in a sensational second half fight back. Admittedly Chelsea were missing the equivalent of these players through the absence of Terry, Lampard, Drogba and Cole. Yet it was they who contrived to cough up a three goal cushion.
Are United back to their swash buckling best or was this game just a freak occurrence? Throughout the course of the season United have been average at best and the quality of their football has been nowhere in comparison to Tottenham’s refreshing brand of attacking football. Yet to be only two points off City at this stage represents remarkable progress for a team labeled by some critics (you know who are Hansen) as ‘’hopeless.’
The Premier League this season has been one of the most unpredictable in years, but the only constant has been United’s ability to keep in touch at the top while playing well below par. Certainly not in the class of teams of the past, this United team has qualities that other teams simply don’t possess. The desire on the faces of the players during the game at the Bridge even after falling three goals behind was particularly noteworthy and is a reminder to any aspiring teams that self-belief is one of the key characteristics of a winning team.
Not blessed with a Silva or a Bale, United have a team spirit that is second to none. A point agreed by even the most ardent of United fans is that their midfield pales into comparison when looking at either City’s or Spurs midfield personal. Yet, to remain in the midst of an engaging title race is creditworthy and praise must be given to not only the players but also to the manager who clearly understands their limitations and is making the most of the resources at his disposal. Perhaps they won’t come out on top when the trophies are being handed out in May, but you can be certain they will still be a key part of the equation until the dying moments of the season. Football has the ability to amaze and inspire, and after witnessing the comeback from three goals down yesterday, one must surely have been in awe at the never say die attitude on display by all associated with United. That even includes the goalkeeper who arguably produced the stop of the season to deny the magical Mata from delivering the spoils for Chelsea.
As the season enters ‘’squeaky bum time,’’ will the desire needed to be champions be on display against Manchester City and Spurs? Unquestionably the United camp will be immersed in self-belief by this stage, but will the other contenders possess the same attributes. Arguably City have greater resources at their disposal, but will it be United’s belief and refusal to be beaten that will carry the day come May? At present who would back against United — ably assisted by Giggs and Scholes to provide the perfect remedy to City’s riches come May? After watching such an unpredictable season thus far, I for one won’t be writing the men from Old Trafford off.