Ever since the Premier League formed in 1992, Manchester United has won more titles than any other English club with 13. That said, they are expected to compete for the league crown every year. And while this is again the case in 2014, Man U is off to a rough start in their quest for a 14th Premier League title.
The team is currently sixth in the standings with a 3-3-2 record (12 points). And they could easily be worse off than this, if not for the heroics of Daley Blind last night. With his team trailing 2-1 late in a match against West Bromwich, Blind kicked a goal in from the edge of the box. And this wasn’t the first time that Man U trailed either as they needed another goal from Marouane Fellaini earlier to tie the match at 1-1.
Despite the narrow win over West Bromich – a middling 14th-place team – and their current sixth-place status, new manager Louis van Gaal still believes that his team can catch league-leading Chelsea by the end of the season. “Call me arrogant but we can still catch Chelsea. I have done it before,” van Gaal said.
Some might say that arrogance is the perfect word here since Chelsea is firmly entrenched at the top with a 7-1-0 record (22 points), which puts them 10 points ahead of Man U. And it may not be the wisest time to be making such statements, given that Manchester United’s next opponent is none other than Chelsea. After that they face Manchester City (17 points) and Arsenal (11 points) before the schedule finally softens up a bit. Nevertheless, the Dutch manager seems pretty confident in his team’s ability to compete for the Premier League title with under 30 matches left.
On the positive side, it isn’t like Man U is so far out of the lead that it’s entirely unrealistic to think that they could win. The problem is, though, that they are having difficulty developing chemistry among a number of high-paid and very talented players. This is the same dilemma that happened under David Moyes last season, and he was fired after just one campaign when Man U failed to quality for the UEFA Champions League.
Right now, van Gaal seems to be hovering the line between UEFA qualification and missing Europe’s premier football competition for a second straight year. It’s unlikely that ownership would sack the highly decorated Dutchman after one season like they did Moyes. However, it would be best if his club at least made a strong run for UEFA play. Once they get this out of the way, then they can start thinking more about catching Chelsea.