Captain Fantastic

Last season, United’s one-off tour of the Championship got off to a poor start when we lost the first two games at Fulham and at home to Huddersfield Town. We went on to win the Championship title.

This season, on our glorious return to the Premiership we also lost the first two games! To Spurs and, funnily enough, to Huddersfield again. And no – I don’t think we’ll win the title this time around!

However it has been very encouraging that since those first two games, we have won three on the bounce, culmninating in yesterday’s win over Stoke City, one of the average, solid, mid-table sides that we need to take points off if we are to stay in this division.

That win has taken us to the dizzy heights of 4th in the Premiership, ahead of a few of the media’s so-called “big clubs”. We know it’s only five games in and it won’t last. But hey, it still feels good eh?

The encouraging thing that is emerging from games this season is how together this current United squad is. None of the prima donnas we have suffered from in the past. Just a squad prepared to work hard for each other, the manager and the fans.

It’s like a breath of fresh air compared with some of the garbage we’ve had to put up with in the past.

The other thing that is noticeable is how well organised we are these days and how Rafa has managed to develop and improve individual players.

As for yesterday’s game against Stoke City. We won again, with captain fantastic Jamaal Lascelles scoring and continuing to impress. Although personally, my man of the match was Matt Ritchie.

Rafa was back on the touchline after his recent surgery, but as those posh southern commentators say on Sky and the beeb, he was “moving gingerly”.

It could be argued that we should have won by this game by more. But having missed some glaring chances in the first half, mainly down to Joselu, you could also argue that Stoke had the chances to nick it in the second half.

Joselu is clearly a work in progress and maybe suffered from trying too hard because he was playing against his old club. But we know that Rafa and his staff will improve him. Instill confidence, and belief and improve his technical work.

It’s what they do.

Rafa keeps saying there are areas for improvement and that we will improve – in fact he probably uses the “improve” word more than any other – and he’s right.

In Rafa we trust.

We still need upgrades in January – primarily a class Goalkeeper, Left Back, No10 and striker – although at LB, both Mbemba and Gamez have been very competent, and maybe Mbemba could prove to be a longer-term solution if Ashley again won’t spend at the level we need to.

How long Rafa will stay here if the regime continue to underfund us is anybody’s guess.

But in the meantime, strap in and enjoy the rollercoaster ride for as long as it lasts.

What do you think? As ever, we would welcome your comments, opinions and views below (We use Disqus).

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