The early bird catches the worm is the saying everyone knows. Get up early, get your day started and achieve great things. Manchester United are on a good run of form of late. However, we’ve started slowly in most of our encounters and need to knock this habit before it catches up with them.
The first half against Liverpool was slow and boring. Southampton pummeled us during the opening exchanges at St. Mary’s but we pulled out a win mostly thanks to Anthony Martial. In the next match at home to Sunderland, United were sluggish until a moment of magic from Daley Blind led to Memphis Depay’s first league goal. Then came Wolfsburg in a must win game. United were clearly still asleep when Caliguri opened the scoring after 4 minutes. Why Valencia was so far behind the other three defenders I don’t know. More importantly why Blind, Darmian and Smalling were all caught ball watching I’ll never know.
These results highlight a worrying trend that exists despite the great results and overall uptick in performance levels. Man United do not start games quickly. The passing style that makes up LVG’s philosophy is akin to a PC. It takes a while to start up but eventually things click and magic happens. The problem is, other teams are getting a hold of the games faster and so far it hasn’t caused us too much embarrassment. Teams like Liverpool and Sunderland will not be a cause for concern due to their sheer inferiority. Both teams came to Old Trafford hoping for a point and thankfully we’ve been too good in the end for that nonsense. Southampton scared the hell out of me. They took the fight to us and could’ve been out of sight after half an hour. Luckily Martial and De Gea provided the magic required to eek out the victory.
This weekend, United travel to London to face Arsenal. In seasons past I’d bet on Rooney to score but in the form he’s in I’ll leave my piggy bank in one piece for a while. Arsenal are in poor form but in Theo Walcott they have the pace to concern Daley Blind. Arsenal will do what Southampton did and attack from the off. If United continue to start with sleep in their eyes this result could bring an abrupt end to the good run the lads have been on.
Rooney needs to stop playing pub football, Memphis needs to improve his decision making and the defense needs to concentrate right from the off. What happened against Wolfsburg should never occur again. Of course we are winning games and I’m over the moon about that despite our performances not being overly convincing. The real positive here is that the resilience last seen under Sir Alex is back. You don’t really feel like United will lose a match if they go down to teams that aren’t in their class and that’s comforting. This isn’t the Moyes era or the early days of LVG’s reign either.
That said, until Man United play a solid game for the whole 90 minutes, instead of 45 or 80 minutes, I’ll be nervous. I’ll have doubts about our title credentials. We need to be on the front foot. If we do that then the Gunners and the rest of the league will be in for a rude awakening. We just have to wake up first though.