4 Things Manchester United Can Expect from the International Break
Manchester United go into the forthcoming international break on the back of their best performance of the season.
Earlier on Sunday, they beat Newcastle United 3-0 at St. James' Park. In addition to their potency in front of goal, the performance of the injury-ravaged and under-fire defense was especially encouraging. United now sit pretty in second place in the league, four points behind early leaders Chelsea.
They have also made a good start to their Champions League campaign by winning both their games so far, to top the group in the early running.
The team will now break for around 10 days, as players return to their respective countries to play in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. As many as 16 first-team players are expected to be on duty with their respective countries in this period.
Here is a look at four things Sir Alex Ferguson and all Manchester United fans will be hoping for during the international break.
No More Injuries
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The last thing Manchester United need right now are injuries to some of their key players. The biggest worry is that players like Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney often come back from international duty carrying knocks.
These knocks often translate into a long absence from the United first team. Even the last international break saw RvP and Shinji Kagawa pick up minor injuries, which kept them out of Manchester United's subsequent game against Wigan.
Sir Alex Ferguson probably hopes that this international break does not add to his injury headache, especially with regards to key personnel in defense.
Playing Time for Players
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With the size of the Manchester United squad, a lot of players often don't get a look-in for the team on match day.
In addition, Sir Alex has admitted that some established first-choice players are short of match practice. Chief among them are Darren Fletcher and Wayne Rooney, who are coming back from injury; and RvP, who didn't have a complete preseason.
The Manchester United manager and fans will hope that the likes of Rooney, RvP, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Fletcher and Nani will get game time during the World Cup qualifiers, so that they can improve their match sharpness.
An Easing of the Central Defensive Situation
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The Manchester United squad this season has been ravaged by injury, particularly in defense.
The team have only had two fit central defenders in Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans. While both Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones will be out for a couple of months more, Chris Smalling is nearing a full recovery from his injury.
Sir Alex will hope that Smalling can use the time available during the break to get back to match fitness. His return will ease the dire defensive situation at the club, and give the United manager more options in many important games after the break.
A Continuation of the Momentum
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For the first time this season, it seems that Manchester United have some momentum in their game. While they did have a five-game winning streak earlier in the season, the team never looked comfortable during that time. The wins were more because of individual brilliance, and sheer luck, rather than through good performances.
However, since the barnstorming second half in the defeat against Tottenham, United seem to have raised their game.
The victory in the Champions League against Cluj was impressively professional, as United executed their game plan to perfection. The subsequent victory against Newcastle was even more impressive, especially considering the trouble the Magpies gave the Old Trafford outfit last season.
Manchester United fans will just hope that this newfound momentum isn't squandered away in the international break, especially with important games against Chelsea, Braga and Arsenal coming up in quick succession.