When Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson exclaims in amazement “United not to be in the top four? You have to worry about what upbringing they had or what kind of porridge they’ve had, they’ve never been right on anything” you know that he’s fired up. He was commenting on those pundits who are predicting the demise of his side in the new Premier League season of course – and as usual, he’s right. That does not stop the fiery Scot from conceding the fact that the days of a big four are over and up to seven challengers will be involved in the title race.
While Truly Reds is not normally in the business of guessing what’s likely to happen by making hopeful predictions, we do believe that Sir Alex will not only lead his side into the top four but will also bring the title back to Old Trafford. That’s a conclusion based on the fire power available to him which is likely to produce a feast of goals that will blow the strongest of rivals away.
A big call? Yes it is but with plenty of justification. In the 18 Premier League seasons since its inception, United has only managed to beat last campaign’s total of 86 goals on two occasions. The title winning side of 1999-2000 hit the back of the net no fewer than 97 times while 87 were put away in 2001-2002 which nevertheless resulted in a disappointing third position.
What must be remembered of course is the fact that those 86 last season were obtained following the loss of two proven marksmen which left most pundits asking where the goals were going to come from. Wayne Rooney provided a stunning answer and while very few expect him to repeat that effort, there’s no reason why the target of another 25 goals should be beyond him.
Then there’s the addition of new signing Javier Hernandez who has shown enough in his short time at United to indicate that given sufficient game time, a contribution of 15 is not unreasonable. By his own admission, Dimitar Berbatov’s performances during his two years at Old Trafford have not been up to the standard he sets for himself but is confident that this will be the year when he wins over his critics. Despite that, Berba still managed to grab 12 goals last season leading one to expect at least 15 from him.
That’s 55 from just three strikers which is not a bad platform on which to build a healthy, title winning total. Adding 5 each from Nani and Valencia cannot be regarded as being overly generous while an average of 3 each from the likes of Owen, Macheda, Giggs, Scholes, Gibson, Carrick, Fletcher, Vidic, Park and Cleverley is not unrealistic – and that’s not counting on any from the recently signed Bebe who cannot be expected to see much action just yet.
So we are now looking at 95 without our friend O.G. who contributed 10 last season. He obviously cannot be expected to be as generous this time but 5, which will bring up the century, is certainly feasible. It will be hard to imagine any side that hits the back of the net 100 times in 38 matches not finishing up as champions.
The defensive factor must obviously come into play as well but when one considers that despite an abnormally high number of injuries suffered by defenders United conceded fewer goals than anyone else last season, the chances of a free scoring attack complimented by a drum tight defence bringing the title back to Old Trafford looks very promising indeed.
Does that sound like an overly optimistic assessment of the season ahead? There can only be a one word answer to that question – BELIEVE
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