I’ve read an awful lot about Manchester United’s start to the season. 2 draws and a loss is surprising, to say the least. Even Ferguson’s started to worry in public, although the BBC headline “Ferguson fears for title defence” is probably stretching it.
Three games in still seems like a bit too soon, though.
Some past performances:
United (’92-93): LLD - 84pts, 1st place
United (’98-99): DDW - 79pts, 1st place (and treble)
Arsenal (’01-02): LLW - 87pts, 1st place
Liverpool (‘06-07): DWL - 68pts, 3rd place
Admittedly, the league is tougher to win these days. On average, between ’98-99 and ’02-03 84 points won the league. Between ’03-04 and ’06-07 it was 91.25. Seven points or so is certainly a difference, but it’s not an insurmountable one, especially if more teams are competitive this season, which looks possible after three games.
There are so many other factors to take into account (as I’ve discussed ad nauseum over the past year), but Liverpool got off to a “better” start over three games last season (4 points > 2!), and finished with a worse points total than anyone imagines United will.
So what does this mean? Not bloody much. Three games don’t determine the final standings, even if you get some indications, as there are still 35 to go. Right now, the indication is that United needs goals, which we know from last season they can produce in abundance. As much as I detest talking up United (and will have to shower after this), Rooney will get healthy, Ronaldo will return from his ban, and Tevez may settle in the team, among other things. I doubt Fergie has lost the plot (any more than usual), although it was hysterical to see the utter confusion on his face after starting to celebrate what could have been Tevez’s equalizer in the derby.
I’m a Liverpool fan; I know how important the first games of the season are. But after three games, it’s truly early days. While I’m enjoying every minute of United’s difficulties, there’s more than enough time for them to rectify their problems. Admittedly, they will have to before Rooney returns in early October, and Ronaldo still has two games left on his ban, but there is still time. It’s just strange to think that after three games, it could be running short.
Maybe in a month or two, if their problems continue, we can start writing obituaries, as was done for Liverpool last season, but not now.
United’s next four games are v Tottenham, v Sunderland, @ Everton, and v Chelsea.