|Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag seems to be the right fit at Old Trafford. AFP Photo.|
It’s been a long time since I went into a game against Manchester United not feeling extremely confident of three points. Ahead of their visit to Anfield on Sunday, things are a little different.
United are on fire at the moment. They lifted the Caraboa Cup last week, are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and are a shoo-in for a top four finish. Plus they are still challenging in the Europa League.
Erik ten Hag has performed miracles. There seems to be a swagger back at Old Trafford and I’m sure their supporters will fancy themselves against Liverpool.
But while United are certainly heading in the right direction, I think it’s fair to say they still have a long way to go before the glory days will return.
Yes, winning the Caraboa Cup was a good start but it’s worth noting that in the early rounds, they were at home for all three games, twice against opposition from lower leagues.
In the semis over two legs, they faced Premier League new boys Nottingham Forest, and while Newcastle are a far better team this season, it was their first major final in more than 20 years.
Man United have reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup after beating Everton, Reading and West Ham – all at home. And they next play Fulham, again at Old Trafford.
Cup draws have been kind to United, and while I accept, they won them all pretty convincingly, I think any talk of them turning a corner is premature.
In ten Hag they’ve no doubt got a decent coach, potentially one of the best at the moment, but they are still, in my humble opinion a good few seasons, and transfer windows, away from challenging for the title.
I saw a post on social media even suggesting they could win it this season, sorry, no chance.
If United can find the right new owners willing not only to spend big on the club but also heavily back the manager in the transfer window, then yes they could in a few years put together a title challenge.
Add the likes of Harry Kane up front, Frenkie de Jong in the middle, and a couple of decent defenders, then potentially they could muster up a title challenge.
But it has to be said that City, Arsenal, and maybe even Newcastle a little further down the line, are not going to lie down without a fight.
And don’t forget their opponents on Sunday. After an extremely poor start to 2023, Liverpool are looking that little bit better.
Plus, Jurgen Klopp and the Anfield supporters would love nothing more than to derail the United locomotive. Historically speaking, Liverpool v Manchester United is probably the biggest game of the season and I expect a cracker on Sunday.
But this time around I’m not expecting a runaway home win as in seasons gone by. VNS