Manchester United: Gathering Momentum As Always

illya mclellan@illya mclellan @illbehaviorNZSenior Analyst IFebruary 6, 2010

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06:  Manchester United fans reveal a banner during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Portsmouth at Old Trafford on February 6, 2010 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

It has been said on numerous occasions this season already that the wheels are not only falling off at United but apparently disintegrating.

The disastrous loss to the old enemy Leeds at Old Trafford and patchy form away from home, and also a home loss to Villa have left many wondering if Ferguson was finally losing his marbles.

In the background to all this has of course been the unrest amongst the fans who are well and truly sick of the lecherous ownership group who have plunged their club into its worst financial situation ever.

With demonstrations against the Glazers becoming the norm at Old Trafford, it was no surprise to see the signs out again decrying the U.S. owners and their style of ownership.

Luckily, for fans of the club, on the pitch things are not quite so bad. Fergie is quietly gearing his team up for another tilt at the title, in what would be an unprecedented fourth in a row, a feat that United were the only other team to have a chance at after their three in a row from 1999 to 2001.

The gnarly old Scot has responded to critics by getting his team into order and revitalizing their title challenge, with four wins in a row in the league.

They are at present the competition's form side and the manner in which they swept aside Portsmouth certainly befits a club which is challenging for the title with real verve and determination.

Wayne Rooney is, of course, at the forefront of this, continuing to improve and really seeming to be loving every minute of his time on the pitch.

Others around him no doubt benefit from his enthusiasm and the recent form of Nani suggests the young Portuguese has really started to get his head around what is expected of him as someone carrying on the prestigious tradition of United wing-play.

Nani has been criticized severely at times by United fans and this certainly looked to have affected him as he was certainly not playing anything near what Ferguson and others knew he was capable of, as earlier this season he had looked to be someone who was on the way out.

But his performance away to Arsenal certainly had some biting their tongues after the vitriol he was subjected to, on some 'fan' sites earlier in the season.

Michael Carrick was also given a fair rubbishing in the press and on fan sites for not measuring up to the United standard.

Which is rather amusing at times considering he is very much a United type of midfielder in how he plays the game and the way he enables his front men to maximize their time on the ball with precision passing.

He does of course have the horrible memory of being totally outclassed by Barcelona's midfield in last seasons champions league final to deal with, but in terms of that match, he was just one in a long line of stars that had been humbled by what was at the time, without doubt, the best midfield on the planet and some may argue still is.

Again, he looks to have made progress mentally that has led to him looking like recapturing the form that led many to compare him to Tottenham and England great Glenn Hoddle.

The team has also looked to have sorted out its defensive woes with strong performances despite still having to change the backline combination in recent matches.

They were actually unlucky not to have kept a clean sheet at the Emirates when Vermaelen scored his late deflected consolation.

The Arsenal game was an outstanding display from United as a team unit and reaffirmed their place as Chelsea's major challenge for the title.

The manner in which they swept the gunners aside was United at their best, clinical passing and pacy attacks that left Arsenal reeling and Wenger shaking his hands in anger on the touchline.

Wenger later admitting that his sides inexperience was certainly the difference in the final result of that match.

With the United juggernaut gathering momentum, what immovable object can stop this seemingly irressistable force?

United's next two league matches they face a lot stiffer a test than was served up by Portsmouth. Aston Villa at Villa Park and Everton at Goodison, which have both, as the season has progressed, become more and more difficult ties for visiting sides.

Martin O'Neill's Villa are the only side to have triumphed at Old Trafford in the league this season and also on that occasion managed to keep United goal-less. They will be buoyed by this and their defensive unit has proved very well organized, with U.S. stalwart Brad Friedel just seeming to get better and better as the years pass.

At Everton, David Moyes has again whipped his team into shape and was terribly unlucky to not get a share of the points at Anfield this weekend gone, even though it must be said that Liverpool are experiencing a resurgence that is long overdue.

Manchester United are again gathering momentum at the crucial point, if Arsenal can cause Chelsea to slip up tomorrow, it could well be that United rule the roost without having their closest rivals beneficent of a game in hand for the first time this season.