Manchester United have a chance to win every year. After securing their 19th Premier League title last season, United made sure that number 20 was within reach. For United fans, the league title was the only trophy won last season.
Last season, United was the underdog, with a lot of people picking Chelsea to win the league. After Chelsea faltered, United was the team to take charge and win the coveted 19th title.
This season, United is expected to win the Premier League. While they are not as good on paper as Barcelona, Real Madrid, or even their neighbors, Manchester City, I have the feeling that United are in for a big year.
A really big year—like winning their first Treble since 1998-99.
I'm just going to say this at the beginning to clarify: I am NOT a Manchester United fan. I support Tottenham (COYS), so don't claim that I'm biased in any way towards United because it's just not true.
So here are the five reasons why I think United will win the Treble in this campaign.
Let's start with this: United were not "we're-winning-the-Premier-League-and-making-it-to-the-Champions-League-Final" good last year. United were the only team to step up and take control of the Premier League when teams like Chelsea, City, Arsenal, and even Tottenham to an extent, all had chances to take it over.
In the Champions League, United benefited from a weak draw in the quarterfinals, beating Marseille, a struggling Chelsea team, and blasting Schalke in the semifinals before losing to Barcelona in the Final.
United lost Paul Scholes and Edwin Van der Saar to retirement at the end of last season. David de Gea is a step below where Van der Saar was in goal, but he is not a goalkeeper that will be a liability.
And then United added Ashley Young from Aston Villa and Phil Jones from Blackburn, both of whom make the team younger. Young should fit in nicely in the midfield, helping the weakest part of United's game last season.
Phil Jones should be the defense of the future along with Chris Smalling. He provides depth in case Rio Ferdinand or any of the other defenders go down with an injury.
This depth will certainly help United with its long Premier League season, FA Cup hopes, and Champions League challenges.
The last time Manchester United were defeated at home was April 1, 2010, when they lost to Chelsea.
That wasn't a typo: They haven't lost at home since 2010.
Old Trafford is the toughest venue at which to play in England and maybe the world. (Remember in Green Street Hooligans, one fear for English soccer fans is "United away.")
United took 37 of a possible 38 points at home in the domestic league. They did not lose at home in the Champions League nor the FA Cup.
Now, let's be realistic and say that the chances of United going undefeated at home again are not good, but they are not going to lose five games at home either. Even in Champions League play, it's hard to play United when you know that you have to take advantage of your home leg and hope for a draw at Old Trafford.
United's dominance of their home pitch puts them in a great position to challenge for the Treble this season. Unfortunately for United, the FA Cup Final and the Champions League Final are not played in Old Trafford.
Arguably one of the best coaches of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson achieved his goal of surpassing Liverpool's record of 18 league titles by clinching the team's 19th title last season.
Ferguson's squads are questionable at times, but with the talent on his team, he knows how to get the best from them.
An example would be in the second leg of the Champions League semifinal against Schalke at Old Trafford. Ferguson went with the reserve team with a crucial match with Chelsea coming up on that weekend. United went on to smash Schalke, but then got a quick start from its starters in the weekend match to all but wrap up the Premier League title.
Ferguson knows his players and has that ability to get the most out of them. While he may be controversial and he may not be the most-liked person in England, the man can coach, and last year was a testament to that.
I expect some of the same magic this season from his squad.
Manchester City are the most talented team in England on paper. The acquisition of Sergio Agguero will be big for this team going forward. David Silva should play better than his performance from last season.
Chelsea were expected to win the Premier League last year. After a dreadful stretch in the middle of the season, they played catch-up to United the rest of the season, nearly catching them. The signing of Fernando Torres did not work out last season as Carlo Ancelotti struggled to find a team that worked consistently.
Both teams are very talented; one could make the case that they are both just as talented as United.
But can you see either team playing up to expectations?
Manchester City has been spending money since 2008 and still has no Premier League title. Do you trust Roberto Mancini to get his players to gel, and how long will this take for him to find a lineup that works?
What about Chelsea's new man, Andre Villas-Boas? After leaving Porto FC, can he bring his magic into Chelsea and make Torres score goals? Will he gain the respect of John Terry, Didier Drogba, and Frank Lampard at his young age?
United have question marks with their roster, but not to the extent of Chelsea and City, which is why I can't see them overtaking United in the Premier League.
But if I were to choose one, Chelsea would be my bet.
I might be stupid, but I'm not delusional.
Barcelona had, arguably, the greatest team ever assembled last season, with the player of our generation, Lionel Messi, leading the way. Don't forget that they were an extra-time header from Cristiano Ronaldo away from winning the Treble themselves.
But after running away with La Liga last season and an improved Real Madrid side with Jose Mourinho in his second year, it's hard to imagine Barcelona winning with such ease as they did last year.
Barcelona is still the best team in the world until proven otherwise, but I can't see them dominating this season as much as they did last season.
Barcelona dominated United in the Champions League Final, but United had its chances in the first 10 minutes of that game. If United had scored in that window of opportunity, the whole game might have been different.
United are not on the same playing field with Barcelona right now, but when it comes down to one game, who knows?
United are the favorites in the Premier League. In the FA Cup, one game can change in an instant, so I don't think it's fair to name favorites, but if we were, United would be at the top. The FA Cup is such a luck-of-the-draw kind of tournament that it's hard to predict, but an improved United team should be among the contenders.
When it comes to the Champions League, obviously the draw has a lot to do with it. Looking at other teams though, Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Barcelona are the only teams in Europe who match up to United talent-wise, on paper, obviously with Barcelona having the edge (and probably Real too).
It will take some luck for United to come out of this season with the Treble, and every team which has won the Treble has needed some luck.
Having said that, I think United has as good of a chance to walk away with a Treble as Barcelona or any other team does.
And it starts on Sunday for United, Saturday for some members of the Premier League.
Enjoy the year; it's going to be a good one.
Thanks for the read and feel free to comment.
Keep the military in your thoughts and prayers.
Follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/RobertDemmett