10 Reasons for Manchester United Fans to Be Optimistic
Sir Bobby Charlton stated that he thought last year was going to be a transitional period for the team.
It seems Sir Bobby may have been a year premature.
The summer signings of David de Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young, combined with the emergence of talented midfielder Tom Cleverley has led to an obvious instability to the team.
The goalkeeper situation is unwanted at this stage in the season, while a lack of form by some key players is frightening.
However, here are 10 very good reasons for United fans to be optimistic.
1. Perfomances Can Only Improve
This year, United have been consistently inconsistent.
They started off with a bang. In the first eight games, United put away 25 goals with ease. They were playing beautiful, attacking football until they came to play City in October.
The 6-1 drubbing handed out began a run of five games with United scoring a goal a game.
Then frustratingly, after four games won convincingly, a 'Red Devils' two-game losing streak ended at City in the FA Cup.
The situation can only improve for the team. As Fergie would say, "It's time to get the show on the road."
2. United Are Always in Contention for the League
Only a fool would count Manchester United out of a title race.
Like an experienced, old stallion, United always last to the end. It is, however, a myth to say that the 'Red Devils' perform better in the second half of the season.
On average, there is only 1.79 points of a difference between the first half and second half of the campaign under Sir Alex.
We must assume that Manchester United do not win the league in the second half. It is the fact that United just lasts longer than any other team.
What's more, United have only failed to finish in the top two three times.
To win the league, City must finish higher than the most successful, experienced and consistent club in Premier League history.
3. Impending Return of Tom Cleverley
The midfield has been in absolute disarray in recent months.
Despite Scholes' return, who knows if he will fill the immense creative hole in the middle of the park which no other player has filled.
Anderson has been injured, Fletcher has missed most of the season with a serious virus, and Carrick has performed well but still has not rediscovered the form from his first two seasons at Old Trafford.
Cleverley seemed the answer.
He provided a dynamic not seen at United for many years. He found intelligent little pockets of space in between the second and third lines and dropped in front of the back four to collect the ball and set the tempo.
His injury has been devastating. It is good news, however, that he may return within the month.
Together with a possible return to form by Ashley Young and Nani, Cleverley's return may be crucial and will give fans cause to be optimistic.
4. Rivals to Lose Players to Africa Cup of Nations
Manchester United rarely has a player that must leave for the Africa Cup of Nations.
It is, however, favorable that rivals such as Man City, Chelsea and Newcastle will all lose key players till at least the start of February.
The two Toure brothers will leave City short in some areas. Chelsea will be deprived of their prolific striker, Didier Drogba. While Newcastle lose their two most important players, Demba Ba and midfielder Cheik Tiote.
Arsenal are going to lose Gervinho and may be forced to play the appalling Andrey Arshavin.
Sir Alex Ferguson will be praying that the necessary departure breaks City's rhythm especially.
But if there is one club in England that will have the depth to deal with the departures, it is Manchester City.
5. Probable Arrival of Nicolas Gaitan in the Summer
The opening of the summer transfer window should mark the beginning of Nicolas Gaitan's career at Manchester United.
According to reports, the Argentinian will leave Benfica in a multi-million pound deal.
This has to be exciting news for United fans. Both Nani and Ashley Young have been immensely inconsistent and 'Toni' Valencia has filled in at right back for a lot of the campaign.
Gaitan is not the needed centre midfielder, but he is creative and inventive. He plays on either wing or just in front of the midfield.
He is apparently keen on the move and will provide United with that 'final pass' player that they have missed.
United do also need an energetic, 'screening' player to play in front of the back four. Owen Hargreaves would have been perfect but now Sir Alex may need to get out the cheque book to buy this type of player.
To find out more about the player, here is an article I have written.
6. Possible Introduction of Talented Youth Players
There is something very Manchester United about a young player blowing the title race open with a glorious strike.
Looking at the current crop of young players, you cannot help but be optimistic.
While Paul Pogba and Ravel Morrison have been discussed excessively, talented footballers such as Zeki Fryers and Will Keane have been on the media's periphery.
Sir Alex has been wary thus far in throwing these players into the starting XI. He has often said that playing young players too early could ruin them.
Imagine if a young player had been playing in the 6-1 earlier this season. His confidence would have been shattered, possibly beyond repair.
The youngster's introduction, however, would be real progress for the Academy which has not put a player in the first team since Darren Fletcher in 2003.
7. Confirmation That Money Is Available
The fear of insolvency and inadequate transfer funds resonates among real Manchester United supporters.
What has been evident in the last six months is that there is money to spend, albeit not at the same level as City.
Sir Alex splashed £50 million in the summer, while a £30 million deal to bring Nicolas Gaitan to Old Trafford was informally agreed in December.
The major stumbling block is to do with the wages policy the club applies. A deal for Wesley Sneijder was scuppered after his demands were too high.
If you look at the last five transfer windows, United have only bought young players that will not demand high wages.
But let's be cheerful, 'Fergie' was not lying.
He does have money to spend, and he's right not to panic-buy for the sake of a short-term fix.
8. Return of Paul Scholes
Knowing Sir Alex, one cannot help but feel that the return of Scholes may just be for psychological reasons.
It has worked however. The club got an immediate lift after he was included in the squad before Sunday's game against City.
Ferguson has employed this tactic before. Memories of Rooney's in vain, but magical performance against Bayern Munich three years ago spring to mind. The forward was injured and was not expected to be included.
How big of a part Scholes will have to play is questionable, but there is a sneaking suspicion that the Ginger playmaker may be back coaching the Reserves sooner rather than later.
9. Fergie Still Has the Hunger
The standards Fergie sets are why his United teams are some of the greatest of all time.
The story goes that after the Champions League win in 2008, Danny Welbeck missed his alarm and subsequently the team bus to the airport.
Fergie waited in the long grass. He kept his mouth shut till the first day of preseason and brought Welbeck in for a quite chat.
Welbeck left that office slightly deaf.
If Ferguson does not think that the players are matching his commitment, he lets them know about it. This hunger is his raison d'etre.
Luckily for United fans, it is an aspect of the Boss which does not seemed to have halted.
10. All the Pressure Is on City
Manchester United have won the Premier League from every possible position at the turn of the New Year.
Manchester City have never the won the Premier League. Also, City have only finished in the top half five times since the league was introduced.
This is a club not accustomed to success. They have players and a manager who have won leagues before, but a league title is won by more than the playing staff.
If City are to experience a major blip in the title run in, it will be interesting to see how the fans react.
The United fans have seen it all countless times.
The pressure is seriously on City. They have spent big. They have been knocked out of the Champions League. They are expected to succeed by the owners.
Sir Alex does not have that sort of pressure.