For the second consecutive season, Tottenham Hotspur held off a furious Manchester United rally to claim three points at Old Trafford. But unlike last season when the Red Devils under Sir Alex Ferguson would cruise to the league title, this season the club is wobbling badly particularly at home.
Manchester United entered today’s match on a six match winning streak in all competitions against an underachieving Spurs side. It appeared likely to those of us who have watched this league for many years that United would inevitably work its way back into the top four places and perhaps, even with some good fortune, back into the title race. We’ve seen this movie before, and on the business end of a Premier League season, the Red Devils always come good.
It’s easy to complain about David Moyes’ tactics and squad selection. But what is obvious to many observers who have sat in awe of Manchester United for years, even when their squad was less than “vintage,” is the mentality has changed around the club. Inevitable equalizers and match winners no longer come easily, and the silly mistakes keep compounding problems for the club.
Looking ahead, the Red Devils have very little margin for error if they want to finish in the top 4. While sitting just five points behind Liverpool and three behind an erratic Spurs side whose most difficult moments this season have almost all come at home, the second half of the season sees difficult fixtures.
In a few weeks, United travels to Stamford Bridge to play a Chelsea side that now looks motivated and exceedingly confident under Jose Mourinho. The Red Devils still have trips to Arsenal, Everton, Newcastle and Southampton to navigate as well as critical home ties with Liverpool and Manchester City, which now loom as games the team must at worst draw in.
Manchester United’s title hopes are likely gone with today’s defeat but fourth place still looms as a possibility. That having been said, results like today’s take the team further away from where they need to be. Each time this season it has seemed like United was coming good, a devastating defeat like today’s has occurred.
The victory over Arsenal in November that catapulted United ahead of Manchester City in the table and within five points of the Gunners at the top seems like an eternity ago. At the time, it appeared David Moyes had navigated through his initial “crisis” period and a title defense was on. Since then Manchester United has lost three times at Old Trafford and now sit 11 points behind the Gunners, and ten points behind Manchester City who as stated above they were ahead of in the table at the last international break.