Back in business?
After the two disappointing results, the Premier League loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (which was not entirely unexpected) and the elimination by Sunderland from the Capital One Cup (following a farcical penalty shoot-out) Manchester United returned to their winning ways with a relatively comfortable 2-0 home victory against lowly Cardiff City, managed by ex-United super-legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
A game that was boosted in its build up by the sensational record signing of top Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata, for whom United dished out no less than ₤37.5 million to acquire what United fans hope will be his sterling (no pun intended) services. Manager David Moyes had no hesitation in throwing his new star signing into the fray at once, playing him just behind prime striker Robin van Persie, thankfully back from being laid low through injury, with Wayne Rooney, also now fully fit, starting on the bench. And the new pairing immediately paid off dividends, with the Dutchman getting back to his scoring form after just five minutes with a well placed header.
United’s early burst tended to go a bit off the boil after about 20 minutes, with the old jittery form returning, allowing Cardiff to get back into the game, but after the break, a thunderous shot by the inconsistent Ashley Young (possibly United’s best player on the night) put the result beyond any doubt and ensured a welcome three points for Moyes’ side.
Can United still make it into the top four? With Van Persie and Rooney steering clear from injuries, with Mata as a classy support act, and with a more solid midfield, I think that this is more than possible. Questions remain about the reliability of the defensive set-up and the lack of creativity in midfield, but with the boost given by the Spaniard’s arrival and the confidence that a good run of wins could generate, it is fair to say that United’s capture of that fourth place could basically end up in a three-way battle with Tottenham and Liverpool. Anything could happen.