Man United Should Feel Encouraged



Sunday’s Manchester Derby saw Manchester City take care of business at the Etihad, defeating Manchester United 1-0 on the strength of a goal from Sergio Aguero. Fans didn’t quite see the high scoring affair many were anticipating between these two sides. It was still a closely contested game, though, and one that both teams can take some positives from. For Man City, these positives are obvious: they took the first leg of the city rivalry and earned three points to stay within striking distance of Chelsea at the top. United supporters may have a harder time finding things to be happy about this week, but here are a few reasons Sunday’s game was a positive for them as well.

Drama Was Self-Inflicted

In the immediate aftermath of the loss, United supporters won’t see much of a silver lining in the fact that Chris Smalling got himself sent off with consecutive yellow cards. But on some level, self-inflicted drama is easier to stomach in a rivalry like this, as it can be corrected. The Betfair Premier League preview section, in advance of Sunday’s Derby, aptly described the Manchester rivalry as “bloodied with controversy, haunted by drama, and sprinkled with moments of brilliance that make you shiver.”

Basically, it’s one of those rivalries in which anything can happen, and fate is often the scapegoat. But in this instance, there was no fluke call or resounding controversy that doomed United‚ merely a discipline issue that is easily understood, and which shouldn’t happen again. Smalling’s sending off was regrettable, but at least United fans don’t have to feel like the football gods ripped this game away with some of that ‘bloody’ controversy or ‘haunting’ drama!

The Attack Had Chances

There have been indications in recent weeks that Man Utd’s offence was going under the notoriously attack-minded Louis van Gaal. The shutout defeat at the hands of City doesn’t look good in this regard, but it’s worth noting that even playing a man down for the entire second half, Man Utd had its opportunities. The Guardian, in its own match recap, notes second-half chances for Robin van Persie, Angel di Maria and Marouane Fellaini, all while playing with a man down.

There’s also the undeniable fact that referee Michael Oliver could have afforded United a few helpful calls that he chose to ignore‚ to be fair, this issue went both ways on Sunday. A shutout is a shutout, but it bodes well for a Man United offence still adjusting to a new manager that they were able to put City on the back-foot a few times, even with ten men.

It Gets Easier

Stay strong, United fans. It truly does get easier, and now may just be the perfect time for a bit of a scheduling lull. As mentioned, Manchester United shows signs of finding itself as a coherent team again, but the recent gauntlet of back-to-back English Premier League (EPL) matches with Chelsea and Man City was hardly going to be conducive to positive results. There is a tricky game against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium coming up, but take a look at Man Utd’s fixtures and you’ll see an overall easier road ahead between now and the New Year.

Given the slow start, there’s a great deal of pressure on United to start accumulating some points. However, the upcoming stretch affords them a perfect opportunity to do so while building on the positive signs we’ve seen on the field of late.

A loss is a loss, and for top EPL clubs it’s hard to convince supporters to take a moral victory. But don’t be surprised if things start improving quickly for Man Utd in the weeks to come. Sunday brought a bad result, but it at least featured indications of good things to come.

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