Manchester United FC needed their defeat of the Aston Villa FC squad today in order to remain even remotely in contention for the coveted top four spots in the Premier League standings. Having only won two points in their last four matches, United faced the prospect of being rendered a non-factor in this year’s competition, much to the surprise of just about everybody. Both fans and detractors alike would never have guessed at the beginning of the season that a match against Aston Villa mid-way through the season would hold as much importance as it did.
United defeated Aston Villa handily 3-0, completing a string of six consecutive victories against them. Serious questions remain, however, about the rest of the season. With Robin Van Persie scheduled to be out for at least a few weeks, the return of Darren Fletcher after a year’s break with a stomach disorder was a welcome sight for the United fans. The Manchester boys will need more than moral victories to erase a 10 point deficit. They will need to rack up a string of wins, and possibly get some help from the teams atop the table currently, to climb back into contention. With today’s defeat of Aston Villa FC, the Manchester United FC took a needed first step.
Today, the Manchester side looked like a team that might be able to actually make the climb, despite the odds. The United attack has never lacked for talent. Most would say that they have an abundance of it. To date, however, the team has struggled to work together consistently as a unit and elicit strong contributions from everyone at the same time. Even a team like Manchester United finds it difficult to succeed under conditions like that. Today’s match saw not only the return of Fletcher, but the return of Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverly to fighting form.
Welbeck, coming off an overall scoring drought of over two months, has not scored a Premier League goal since August. He managed to put away two goals within a space of just three minutes. Cleverly had not scored in an entire year, but he managed to put the third goal into the net in the second half to put the match out of reach for Aston Villa. Being able to get excellent performances from the entire squad at once must certainly have been a relief for embattled Manchester United Manager, David Moyes.
In recent weeks, Moyes has been under considerable scrutiny. With United having the worst start in the last 12 years, many questioned whether or not his time with the team would soon be ending. Moyes has remained unruffled, however, relying on his players to justify the club’s investment in him. Today, they started to do just that. It is only one win, with many more needed, but the shift in momentum seemed to be readily perceptible as today’s game progressed. With today’s defeat of the Aston Villa FC, Moyes and his Manchester United FC squad have taken the first step that they needed to halt the downward spiral that alarmist fans have been predicting would never end.
By Jim Malone