5 Reasons for Manchester United Fans to Be Cheerful
Right now, there isn’t much to be happy about if you are a supporter of the Red Devils. With one hand on the Premier League trophy, United’s City rivals look almost certain to win their first English championship since 1968.
But as I always say whenever things aren’t going well for United, if this is as bad as it gets being a United fan—finishing second in the league with a guarantee of Champions League football next season—we are all pretty damn lucky.
Still, I think United fans need a bit of cheering up going into the final round of fixtures. In this article I will present 5 reasons why it isn’t all doom-and-gloom down Sir Matt Busby Way.
Veterans Still Performing
There is no other club in the league that balances youth and experience as well as Manchester United. While some teams struggle to get the most out of their senior players, the vast majority of the over-thirties at Old Trafford still play a major part of the first team, and often do it very well.
True, the likes of Michael Owen and Park Ji-Sung, both of whom have struggled for games and fitness this season, prove to be the exception to the rule. Others such as Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes and the evergreen Ryan Giggs, however, continue to be integral parts of the first team.
Add to that list the injured captain Nemanja Vidić, the ever-present vice captain Patrice Evra and the ultra-reliable Michael Carrick and you start to realise just how important these veteran players are at Old Trafford.
It could be argued that a continued reliance on these players is detrimental to the progress of the club. Yet United also have many youngsters coming through the ranks. Speaking of which...
Youngsters Steadily Improving
The criticism of David de Gea at the start of this season was as predictable as it was frustrating. A new country, a new language, a new team, a new life—de Gea was going through so many changes on a personal level that it's no surprise his football would suffer somewhat.
Yet now that we are reaching the end of the season, de Gea is starting to make certain critics eat their words with save after save after world-class save. De Gea has proven to be a world class shot-stopper when called upon, even if other areas of his game have needed time to nurture. His game-saving stop at the end of the match at Stamford Bridge remains the highlight of his season.
The only way is up for the Spaniard. We could be looking at one of the very best elite keepers in the world in the not-too-distant future. How can that not be an exciting prospect?
And he's not alone. Back in March, Bleacher Report columnist Kyle Diller wrote a great article on young Jonny Evans and how he is United's most improved player this season. That is a hard fact to argue.
In the absence of Nemanja Vidić, Evans has raised his game and forged an immense partnership with Rio Ferdinand. His composure, his intelligence and his general leadership have all markedly improved this year. Could he have an outside chance of being one of the three over-21 players for Great Britain at this summer's Olympics? I wouldn't bet against it.
Add Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Rafael, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley to this list, and we are seeing quite a remarkable number of youngsters edge their way into major first-team positions. Always great to see.
New Blood in the Summer
We all have different ideas about who needs buying or which positions need addressing, even me. No doubt Bleacher Report will be stuffed full of conjecture and scouting reports over the coming weeks.
Will United snap up the exciting attacking midfielder Nicolás Gaitán? What about Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa? Surely United need a new holding midfielder in the mould of Javi Martinez, first and foremost. Who will replace the outgoing Dimitar Berbatov?
Transfer season is always fun. New players coming into the side can instantly change the dimension and the impetus of the team going into a new season. With far too much reliance on talisman Wayne Rooney, the Stretford End is crying out for a new hero.
An exciting summer lies ahead for the United faithful.
United Still Have the Best Manager in the World...
...or at the very least, the best manager for Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson is Manchester United. Sir Matt Busby laid the foundations, true, but in his tenure at the helm it has been Sir Alex Ferguson that built the club into what it is.
Each loss hurts this man more than any fan. The club is his legacy and with the rise of every new challenger the fire inside him burns a bit brighter.
Yet I ask: who better to go up against this new superpower than the greatest British manager of all time? He may be simultaneously laying new foundations for his eventual heir, but I have no doubt that the great knight is relishing the prospect of facing this new behemoth as he reaches the end of his reign.
Believe me, this cloud that currently looms over Old Trafford is nothing compared to the one that will hang high in the sky when Sir Alex decides to retire.
It Isn’t Over Yet...
...but you wouldn't think it, having witnessed the reaction of some United fans.
United have been here before. On the final day of the 2009-10 season the players knew that a win was necessary to keep up the pace with Chelsea at the top of the league. One point separated United from Chelsea and though the title seemed destined to go down to Stamford Bridge, United needed to be professional.
United broke down a tough Stoke team to earn a respectable 4-0 victory. While that eventually proved irrelevant (Chelsea hammered eight past Wigan), it is exactly that kind of professionalism that will be needed this weekend. I am certain we will see it.
The onus is very much on Manchester City. The weight of expectation from their long-suffering fans and the pressure from the owners who have invested so much into the team may just trickle down to the players. Playing a team fighting against relegation—a team that has beaten Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool this season—City have it all to do. Anything could happen.