MANCHESTER UNITED beat Aston Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford on New Year’s Day to take them level on points with old rivals Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.
It was unthinkable two months ago that United would be in such a position.
But, football is drunk this season, and United, domestically, have returned to some form.
Remarkably, it means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United squad can compete with Jurgen Klopp’s side for the title this season.
It’s by no means a certainty of course, and not only are they huge underdogs, they’ll still need a few things to go their way – but stranger things have happened!
Bruno Fernandes, who is approaching his one-year anniversary in Manchester, has been nothing short of sensational since signing from Sporting Lisbon last January.
The Portuguese wizard has adapted to life at Old Trafford so well that it’s difficult to think of a better signing since Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival from the same club back in 2003!
Above all, Fernandes is a leader, and United will need that leadership if they are to turn points into prizes.
It’s hard to recall what life at Old Trafford was like, pre-Fernandes.
Turgid, predictable football, has turned into goals and entertaining victories, and United’s points-per-game ratio in 2020 up there with the best teams in Europe.
The task now is to convert that across a league season and win trophies.
In defence, Eric Bailly’s return to the side is another welcome boost.
Bailly’s ability has never been in question, the challenge for him is to remain fit for a prolonged period of time so that he can forge a partnership with Harry Maguire and the rest of the back four.
United have already seen the benefits of his pace at the heart of the defence and if his fitness and form can continue, United will have one of the best central defenders in the league back playing, which is an intimidating thought for opponents.
Lady Luck will play a part as well and some might suggest United have already had their fair share with the amount of penalties they’ve been awarded, and via Marcus Rashford’s late deflected strike against Wolves last week.
While Rashford has flourished on and off the pitch this season, Anthony Martial, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood have, for different reasons, stuttered.
Cavani has been the most impressive but after shaking off an injury, is now serving a three-match suspension.
Martial’s own suspension after being shown a red against Tottenham earlier in the season, set him back, and Greenwood has shown signs that he’s ready to explode back into a life after a testing few months with club and country.
If United are to compete, then Greenwood, and in particular Martial, will have to help Cavani, Rashford and Fernandes with the goal load.
So overall it promises to be an exciting run between now and next May.
And, if Solskjaer can juggle the competitions better than he did towards the end of last season, then United might just push Liverpool all the way, and end with a trophy or two.
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