Manchester United: United Are the Comeback Kings of World Football

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IINovember 10, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10:  Javier Hernandez of Manchester United celebrates with  team-mate Luis Antonio Valencia (R) at the end of the Barclays Premier league match between Aston Villa and Manchester United at Villa Park on November 10, 2012 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Through 11 weeks of English Premier League action, Manchester United sit on top of the ladder—a position they secured for another week with a 3-2 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park this weekend.

The Red Devils might not have been convincing in victory, but Sir Alex Ferguson's men somehow came away with all three points, which is all that can really be expected of them when they take the field.

The comeback victory isn't a new storyline for Manchester United.

Not this year, anyway.

In the English Premier League alone, United have come from behind to win on five separate occasions—almost half of their matches to date (against Fulham, Southampton, Liverpool, Stoke and Aston Villa).

In the UEFA Champions League, despite four wins from four matches, the storyline reads true again for Manchester United as the comeback kings of world football.

So far, the Red Devils have only played one match where they didn't come from behind to win in the tournament. Twice against Sporting Braga and once against CFR Cluj, United were forced to do it the hard way to pick up three competition points.

It's been simply incredible to watch.

They are the undisputed comeback kings of world football.

Which, at one level, is an exciting and momentum-building thing.

United have failed to give up in any match this year, and the results have proved that to be true. Rather than rolling over and playing for no injuries, the Red Devils have attacked and spread the ball wide, and they've picked up results because of it.

The hero against Aston Villa, Javier Hernandez, commented after the game (per BBC) that the come-from-behind victory can all be put down to self-belief and confidence:

We've never given up in the history of Manchester United. That's what the gaffer and all the legends show you.

You learn the game is 90 minutes, so you fight to the end. (When I came on at half time), I thought "we can do it".

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson was also quick to praise his side for another "magnificent" comeback that saw them keep the top spot in the EPL. Per Graeme Bailey, Sky Sports:

(It's an) absolutely magnificent result for us, it is a magnificent game—I must say that. We never gave in and hit the bar twice in the second half, but once we got the second goal, we came alive and it was a fantastic game.

We have put pressure on ourselves today, but we cane through and that is a lesson that we really need to be better in defense.

You admire the tenacity of the performance when they need to it, they do it, and the attacking play was terrific at times.

As mentioned before, the win is no doubt an inspiring, confidence-building victory that will continue to give them belief, when they are next trailing, that they can indeed come back and pick up three points—no matter how bleak or desolate the outcome looks.

But at one level, and I write this carefully, United's come-from-behind victories are not sustainable. They are incredible, but they are not sustainable.

There is simply no way that United can continue to let teams score first and expect to win football games when it's happening every single time they take the pitch.

The Red Devils, for all their defensive skill, have only kept three clean sheets this season—two of which have come in the English Premier League.

Granted, they are on top of the table and winning football games, and that is all that can be expected of them to get out of every week in the league. 

But the style in which they are doing it is not sustainable. They will falter if they continue to let teams pick up one- or two-goal leads every week. They will falter, and they will lose their lead in the English Premier League unless they can regain some defensive stability and security.

Having said all of that, the signs are strong for the comeback kings.

We must remember that this is not a team that isn't creating goal-scoring chances prior to the team's opening goals. It's not like United are sitting back, trying to play for a 0-0 draw and are forced into attacking when they find themselves two goals down.

No, this is a strong attacking side and one that thrives when they are moving the ball forward—down the middle or out wide on the flanks.

United currently sit in the top three for total possession per game and in the top five for shots on target per game, with an average of 5.8 per match.

They have scored significantly more goals from open play (four more than second-placed Everton) and, surprisingly, haven't scored a goal on the counterattack this season—showing that the Red Devils are still building and creating their goals rather than just capitalizing on defensive errors.

We must also note the importance and significance of the games in which United has scored first this season—that being not the norm this year.

It's only happened on four occasions in the EPL this year, but out of those four, three of them have been incredibly big and significant fixtures against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Newcastle United at St. James' Park and Arsenal at Old Trafford.

In the big matches, the must-win matches, United are netting first and are controlling the match, rather than just relying on being the comeback kings once more.

Just something to keep in mind moving forward this year.

We are quick to point out when the Red Devils don't score first, but we should also note then the significance of what happens when they do score first. For when that happens, Untied haven't dropped a single point in any competition this season.

So with another famous come-from-behind victory, the city of Manchester rejoices once more about their comeback kings who currently lead the Premier League.

They have won all but one of their past 10 league matches and have a perfect record in the Champions League—a perfect start to the season for Sir Alex Ferguson, who is no doubt keen to make amends for the heartbreak that was suffered last year.

It's not convincing football, and it's certainly not sustaining. 

But it is giving United wins week in and week out in the Premier League.

They are still creating chances and still possess the most dominant attack in England; now they're just adding some serious self-belief and comeback ability into their already impressive resume in world football this season.

Like it needed to get any stronger.

What do you make of United's come-from-behind victories this year?

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