Manchester United Have Reason to Be Optimistic About Their Chances This Season

Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentNovember 17, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10:  Manchester United Manager David Moyes celebrates at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on November 10, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Few teams headed into the international break with more reason to be optimistic than Manchester United.

The win over Arsenal at Old Trafford announced David Moyes' side as genuine challengers for the Premier League title. It helped to silence a few doubters after early defeats to Liverpool, Manchester City and West Brom.

For now, the question marks are hanging over City—their defeat at Sunderland was their fourth away loss this season—and Chelsea, who needed a late penalty to avoid losing at home to West Brom.

United are atop their Champions League group with two games to play, and the expectation is that they'll be in the draw for the knock-out rounds when it takes place next month.

There has also been smooth progress in the Capital One Cup, and there's a quarterfinal with Stoke to look forward to before Christmas. A win at the Britannia Stadium would put United two games away from a Wembley final.

It's a trophy that was only ever fourth on Sir Alex Ferguson's list of priorities when he was in charge, but he always took it seriously in the later rounds when there was a chance for silverware.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 12:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United celebrates with team-mate Robin van Persie following the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Swansea City at Old Trafford on May 12, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Ph
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Ferguson has told Moyes that winning any trophy this season would represent a success. The Capital One Cup might not have the size or stature of the Premier League trophy or the Champions League, but they all count.

Moyes is also benefiting from having his two most influential players, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, playing well and scoring goals.

He will be concerned about the injury to Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini's slow integration into the team. But if Rooney and Van Persie stay in top form for the rest of the season, United won't be far away from the big prizes in May.

But with all the progress Moyes has made in his new job, his main reason for optimism is that the circus surrounding his appointment is coming to an end.

Most of his firsts—first game, first win, first signing—are out of the way. On top of that, Ferguson's autobiography is out and has been squeezed for every news line.

It's allowed the new man to finally take his first steps outside his predecessor's huge shadow and get on with his job. If that's not reason for optimism, nothing is.