There are many words to describe the performances of the Red Devils and all of which shed positive light on the way they have conducted themselves this season. The most consistent team in the Premier League have done it again and now that their noisy neighbours have fallen from the pinnacle of the division, the inevitable has happened. On Monday 22nd April, to the surprise of very few, Manchester United were duly crowned Champions of England for a 20th time after an exhibition 3-0 victory over Aston Villa consisting of a Robin van Persie first-half hat-trick. A far cry from the situation they were in last season when it was squeaky bum time. It was all theirs to lose and they did so dramatically in the last minutes of the season. But this time around they could be on course to record the highest points tally in a Premier League season. So what are the secrets behind one of Manchester United’s most successful seasons in the Premier League?
In recent seasons, United have been plagued with injuries to some key players which has forced Sir Alex Ferguson’s hand to dive into the depths of his squad. Especially at the back United have suffered in particular. Many critics argue that if Nemanja Vidic hadn’t sustained the long-term knee injury that kept him out for most of the season, the result of last seasons title winners could of been completely different. Even on the first game of this season at Everton, Michael Carrick had to begin his season at centre-half. But with the return of Vidic and Rio Ferdinand keeping fit, United had looked strong at the back with Patrice Evra and the impressive Rafael on either flanks. The same goes in midfield where Michael Carrick has been an outstanding performer this season and has earned his way into the PFA nominations for this season.
Ferguson faced a dilemma last season when his newest signing for a record amount for a goalkeeper, David de Gea was seemingly not living up to the hype of his £19 million price tag. Thrown into the team at 20-years-old, their was a lot of pressure to perform on young de Gea, but on frequent occasions he did not look confident, he broke down in communication with his defence and he spilled one or two errors costing them goals. The goalkeeping role was rotated between de Gea and Anders Lindegaard last season and United looked lost without the retired Edwin Van Der Sar. However, its a different story this time around. The tender Spaniard has looked more settled and confident in between the sticks and has shown particularly great skills in shot stopping. He has outstanding reflexes and he has shown a bit of bravery that comes with the hustle and bustle of being a Premier League goalkeeper. There could be a great goalkeeper in the making.
Sir Alex Ferguson was the man who orchestrated the golden generation of players such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes and since the maturation of some and the departure of others, questions arose of how they will replace such important figures and replicate their success. Well there could be some contenders in the offing going off this season. Several players have shown reveling promise such as Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley, Rafael, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez and have all shown the ability to hold pivotal roles in the United side. Jones, Cleverley and Welbeck now regularly feature for the England side, Rafael has shored up defensively and it still an attacking threat and Hernandez has yet again scored some vital goals this season and has clocked up a tally of 16 goals. All players have given brilliant contribution to regaining the title but this group in particular have answered those unnerving questions to show they can play for United. Ferguson went as far to say that Phil Jones could end up being United’s greatest ever player. A bold statement but maybe he sees something that the rest of us can’t.
One of the most under rated players in Premier League and perhaps over the past 5 years, Michael Carrick has vindicated his own performance and silenced the critics. He has been a stand out performer in this title winning season and well and truly deserves his nomination for PFA player of the year. Based on looking at statistics, he has one of the best passing success rates in Europe alone. Composed on the ball and able to see the pass that others can’t, he has been the backbone of a stellar midfield. Another success has come from arguably Carrick’s best season in a United shirt. His chance on the international stage has come a bit easier now and he has a few caps under his belt. His talent is finally being recognised by the England setup. Whether he will feature more regularly is another question but what is for certain is that Carrick can be proud of his performance this season and collect his 5th Premier League title. With performances like this year there will be plenty more to come.
It is fair to say that United have always had one stand out performer in the team that it cut above the rest of the league and is vital to the team. In recent years, Wayne Rooney has taken on that role and he has succeeded the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Eric Cantona. But United’s latest signing, the flying Dutchman, looks to have taken on that accolade. Robin van Persie has been nothing short of incredible in his debut season for the Red Devils. He has taken the centre forward role in style and was as formidable in front of goal this season as he was the previous campaign tallying 29 goals in all competitions so far. He has tremendous link up play and awareness and a great technical ability. It looks like he is the new face of United. It also looks likely that he will take the Golden Boot for a second successive season and he is a nomination for PFA player of the year. It would be a surprise to many if he didn’t pick up that award either. His hat-trick against Aston Villa on Monday showed just how important he is and he single handedly led United to the title that night.