After poor start, United still on pace for top-4 finish

Amazing what just a win can do for a teams moral and confidence.

The panic over Manchester United’s poor start may have been for nothing. Louis Van Gaal never got worried, so why did so many fans? In the season that follows a World Cup, historically big teams struggle with fitness and form early on in the same as their best players are not ready for full-time action after competing on the world’s biggest s

Realistically, United start to the season was a worst-case scenario. No one imagined they would have started winless, with a loss and two draws. Even the biggest pessimists i’d be worse.

After a 4-0 win over QPR on Sunday, United rise up the standings to ninth. But, it’s not where they are at after four matches that is important, it’s who is around them. After a nightmare start, United now sit only two points from a Champions League spot, which, is ultimate goal for the season. The four CL spots currently are filled by Chelsea, Aston Villa, Swansea City and Southampton. Besides Chelsea, who are favorite to win the league, it’s probably unlikely any of the other three will finish in the top-4.

The main contenders to move up and replace those three are: Manchester City (7points), Tottenham (7pts), Arsenal (6pts) and Liverpool (6pts). Only two points separate United with City and Tottenham, and just one with Arsenal and Liverpool. While, City, Arsenal and Liverpool prepare to play in midweek Champions League, and Tottenham in the Europa League, Manchester United can use the time to rest and work on improving their own squad and preparing for the next round of matches. United next visit Leicester City, which should be another three points for the Red Devils.

With top teams struggling off the World Cup, and no time to work on flaws or rest, it’s anyone’s guess when those clubs can hit full stride. United has a easy schedule to start the season, which is good. For one, it gives United an opportunity a sneak away with points when they are uncertainty in the club but more importantly, had they faced someone such as Arsenal early on, even without form, Arsenal would have had a golden chance to grab all-three points from United. This gives United time to settle and develop chemistry, and when they do start facing clubs such as Chelsea and Arsenal in a few weeks, they will be ready.

And a few wins against those big clubs, could really separate United’s position further up into a CL spot. The next four United opponents: Leicester City, West Ham, Everton and West Brom. United could be adding points on a weekly basis and still working on improving, the big clubs play tough league matches and in Europe. Some will fall, some will hang on, but the race for the top-four will seem much clearer come late October when United faces Chelsea, their first elite opponent of the season.

Things looked bleak, but as far as a top-four finish is concerned, United is still in the drivers seat despite sitting in 9th place after four match-days.