A Look At Manchester United – From 12 Months Ago To Now


Credit: @BandarJakarta87

More than the Premier League, what is missing the most for Manchester United is the Champions League. Occasioned by the reopening of the top competition this week with the first games of the last 16, the absence of Red Devils is noticeable with the likes of FC Basel and Monaco filling their potential spot.

This time last year, United faced Olympiacos, falling “victim” to an unexpected surprise in the first game, which was a 2-0 defeat. Despite the the great opportunity to reduce the score with Robin Van Persie in the final moments of the first-leg, whatever failed the Dutchman in Greece was then made up for when the 31 year-old netted a hat-trick and help fire United into the quarter-finals.

However, in the next round it was Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich who had the chance to eliminate United. With the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford it left the tie well and truly open when both sides returned to the Allianz Arena. Despite taking the lead with a thunderbolt from Patrice Evra, the “Bavarian” club equalised within a minute and ultimately went on to win 3-1 to all but complete United’s dreadful season.

But it wasn’t the players to blame. Last year under David Moyes’s things went wrong – with the team finishing seventh and failing to reach any of the European competitions. But 12 months on and things are beginning to look different at Old Trafford. This year with Louis Van Gaal, the staff and the impressive summer signings, United are beginning to find their form and make themselves a force to be feared next season. Yes, that sounds premature but with Chelsea currently surging their way to the title with Manchester City in second place, if the league ended today, the Red Devils would have secured their entry into the Champions League next season which was their main goal when Van Gaal entered the frame.

In reality though there’s still a long way to go. With thirteen games before the end of the season and the rest of the fixtures hotting up – with Arsenal, Liverpool, Southampton and Tottenham all in the hunt for fourth its an important period. United have a difficult run coming up and its essential they win their next few games to secure their position in the table.

In March the Old Trafford side face Spurs, Newcastle, Arsenal, Liverpool before that gets harder in April. Needless to say that the schedule seems to be tricky and require great performances but these next few months will actually show how far United have come since August. Van Gaal seems to find the right solutions in the big games and that was showcased against Liverpool and Arsenal when United destroyed the Reds but then rode their luck against Gunners.

But even though United are hoping to re-enter the Champions League, their two rivals ahead of them in the table will face Paris Saint Germain and Barcelona in the last-16 stage of the Champions League, which gives United some hope of closing the gap before May. United are only five points behind City and with 13 games to go second place is by no means out of reach. Van Gaal’s side still have to face City at Old Trafford and that clash could be very interesting should the side continue to keep their run going.

Nobody said that winning the Premier League couldn’t be done, but this year United fans knew they needed to be patient to allow Van Gaal to implement his football tactics and plans for the team. It seems that Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea has seen the benefits of given the Portuguese boss a season and a summer of transfers to get things right and it could be the same for the Red Devils come 2015/16. If United manage to secure a Champions League return this season it will be success along with the FA Cup competition they remain in the hunt for.

So despite all the criticism of the Dutch boss, the reality is, he’s doing a great job after a turbulent season that saw United go from champions to seventh in the space of 12 months.

All it leaves is a transfer period that could be the difference between a 21st league title and another battle for fourth.

Next: Phil Jones & Van Persie fit to face Swansea