There’s a dangerous tendency amongst football fans – of every club, to put the cart before the horse and the Manchester United ones are no different. If it’s been heard once it’s been heard a thousand times. “The FA Cup Semi Final derby on Saturday is the Final with the winner certain to lift the Cup at the end of May” REALLY? Is that not being a little presumptuous? Cup Finals have been riddled with underdogs coming out on top for over a century. Remember Sunderland beating Leeds United, Wimbledon doing the same against Liverpool and indeed, Southampton denying Manchester United? Every one of those winners were complete outsiders before causing their boilovers.
It’s an absolute given that history can never be guaranteed to repeat itself but it can certainly give some encouraging signals. Manchester United has remained unbeaten in the Premier League since that controversial 2-1 defeat against eventual champions Chelsea at Old Trafford last April and have managed to finish 2010 with that 1-1 draw at St Andrews as the only team in England yet to lose a Premiership game this season. In addition, United have lost 16 points from their eight drawn matches so far, 5 fewer than Arsenal, 6 less than Manchester City and 7 than Chelsea. Not a bad advantage to take into the New Year.
Just two weeks after Manchester United’s Dimitar Berbatov failed to make the starting line up in the top of the table clash with Arsenal, he returned with a typically stylish performance. As United moved the ball around with relish he snapped up his first chance when Ryan Giggs played in Wayne Rooney and his perfect cross was headed in by the Bulgarian.