Man United; discuss (20 marks).
Jose Mourinho’s side are set to finish second in the Premier League, four places better than last season.
They could potentially end this campaign with eight wins and 14 points more than 2016/17.
Wins against West Ham and Watford would give them 83 points, a tally that would have been enough to win the league eight times in previous Premier League seasons.
They’re also favourites to beat Chelsea and lift the FA Cup.
So how come everyone thinks they’re terrible?
Neutral opinion of United is that they’ve had a disappointing season.
Even though, in the most literal, objective sense possible, they have been second only to a magnificent Man City side.
The Champions League round of 16 exit at the hands of Sevilla is the be all and end all of United’s season for many.
A negative showing in Spain was followed by a 2-1 defeat at home to a team who, let’s be honest, shouldn’t have made it through to the quarter-finals of Europe’s signature club competition.
They have a goal difference of -11 in La Liga this season and are likely to miss out on the Europa League spots.
The brand of football endorsed by Mourinho means United’s losses have generally been more memorable than their wins.
They have lost to all three promoted teams (and West Brom) this season, meaning four of their seven league defeats have been memorable ‘giant-killings’ if you will.
United were also dumped out of the EFL Cup by Bristol City.
Generally, there’s a sense the lows have been deep, dark pits while the highs have been fleeting paper aeroplane flights.
Which is strange considering they inflicted one of City’s two losses, beat Arsenal at the Emirates, nullified Liverpool’s threat at Old Trafford, and were superior to the vast majority of their opponents.
Defensive football is as unfashionable as it has ever been.
Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp’s philosophies have produced entertaining attacking football which has led them to success, or the brink of, in Liverpool’s case.
However, both clubs are vulnerable at the back.
Mourinho differs to his two primary adversaries in that he prioritises defence and organisation over attractive, free-flowing football.
For many fans, winning isn’t enough, the manner and style of victory is just as important.
While it’s true that United have looked directionless and disjointed in attack often this season, the fact remains they are comfortably ahead of Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea, and every other club not currently managed by Guardiola.
We don’t for once believe the ‘media agenda’ conspiracy theory — it’s understandable if you have been disappointed by United this season.
But is that only because of the standards the club has set for themselves?
Hard to say, but United’s enigma season will live long in the memory for its inscrutable, incomprehensible nature.
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