Manchester United’s players have been given a golden opportunity to redeem themselves in the next seven days thanks to Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City at the weekend because if we can win both of our remaining Premier League games, we’ll finish fourth and earn a UEFA Champions League spot.
On more than one occasion this season I’ve really questioned whether Man United’s players actually gave a damn playing in the shirt and if they cared about the result. December was the worst example of that; getting knocked out of the Champions League was a game which I expected to trigger a reaction among the players but we lost three more consecutive games against Bournemouth, Norwich City and Stoke City. There’s nothing wrong with losing, it’s part of football, but seeing the players not committing themselves is the last thing you want to see as a fan.
Somehow, we head to Upton Park in control of our top four chances and know that winning our last two games will see us pip Manchester City to the post. If that isn’t motivation enough for the players to really buck up their ideas then they don’t deserve to play for United. You saw how languished we were against Norwich City without Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial; to me, it looked like a bunch of players who conceded the top four was out of reach already even if we beat Norwich. Sure, Louis van Gaal‘s tactics and training played a part but a player knows what is on the line – you’ve only got to look at Tottenham Hotspur’s game against Chelsea a couple of weeks ago to prove that.
We’ve had to endure some turgid football this season. On more than 20 occasions we’ve been drawing 0-0 at half-time and have had to accept that, for large parts, we were just an awful footballing side. There’s been plenty of false dawns which bring back some momentum only to then be replaced by the same sense of frustration and anger towards how we’re playing but redemption is three wins away.
It’s time for United’s players to show some cojones on the pitch and attack each game like it is their last because if we limp out of the top four hunt like Manchester City did in their UEFA Champions League semi-final, there’ll be resentment among fans towards them. As I said before, there’s no shame in losing if you put everything on the line but there’s plenty in cowering in the corner.
Over the course of the season, my feeling is that we’ve got no right to be in the hunt for a top four finish and our first FA Cup win in over a decade, but we are and we’ve got to take advantage of that. Football is a game of momentum and finishing this year with silverware and a Champions League spot would set us up perfectly for next season, regardless of who is in charge.