Since Sir Alex came out and told the press that he believes the current United squad was stronger than the world-beating team of ’99, is the treble still a realistic target for an English club anymore? With teams like Bayern, Barca and Real Madrid being more dominant than ever, it’s certainly tough, and if anyone can challenge for it, United can.
Starting with the Premier League, and this season United are already 15 points clear at the top with nine games remaining, it looks unlikely that the blue side of Manchester will retain the trophy. It would take a monumental mess up from the boys at Old Trafford to throw this one away. Not only is there a massive void in the points, but United also have +37 goal difference, which is 11 more than City’s lesser, but still impressive, +26. Even though City have a game in hand against Aston Villa tonight, an 11-goal victory is unthinkable at Villa Park, a win would be routine for City – but this does still leave a whopping 12 points to catch up, in 9 games.
Then there’s the FA Cup, and as we saw from the recent Capital One Cup competition, it’s not necessarily just the top flight teams that need to be worried about, as we saw League 2 Bradford City reach a big Wembley Wonderland. With a quarter-final against Chelsea this weekend, it’s looking tough for the Reds. Back in October of last year, there was two thrilling games in 4 days between the sides, finished United 2 – 1 Chelsea in the Premier League, and a 5-4 thriller went Chelsea’s way in the 4th round of the League Cup. By no means is the Quarter final a foregone conclusion, but with it being played at home and with Chelsea’s recent form, you’ve got to say United are favourites. With teams like City and Everton still in the Cup, if we do overcome Chelsea it’s still not a clear run to the final.
And final, the big one. Currently held by Chelsea, the Champions League is the trophy every team in Europe wants in their cabinet. The only problem is, the trophy hasn’t been retained in England since Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa kept it between them from 1976 to ’82. That’s not the main problem though, that lies at the hands of Real Madrid. After an impressive 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu, where United had been discredited beforehand, pundits and fans have begun to recognise that United have a realistic chance of overcoming Madrid in the home leg. However, if we do get past Real’s solid defence and manage to contain Ronaldo and we get to the quarters, there are still teams like Bayern, Barca, and 7-time winners Milan still in the competition, it looks bleak for the Reds.
In conclusion, Sir Alex was right. The squad we have now is so diverse and wide, it’s easy for us to make a tweak or two each and every game to keep players happy, as well as fit. Because we have such a vast range of players to choose from, injuries rarely hinder us. Not only do we have the range, our finest players are all fit at the moment, and if they all stay injury-free, it’s realistic. Van Persie is back after a needlessly worrying hip injury, Vidic is back to full fitness, and so it Kagawa.
The next big test will be tomorrow’s game at Old Trafford and trying to hold off Mourinho’s Men. If they can overcome Los Blancos and defeat Chelsea at the weekend, it certainly looks to be a promising season for the red side of Manchester.