Tuesday Team Talk: Are Manchester United worthy Premier League champions or just best of a bad lot?

By Matt Simpson

Manchester United’s crushing victory against Aston Villa at Old Trafford sealed a record 20th league title for the Red Devils and their position as England’s most successful club.

But, despite reclaiming the Premier League from their ‘noisy neighbours’ with four games to spare, have United been as good as their winning margin suggests?

It is often said champions win when they are not playing well and there is certainly an argument to suggest that is the case for this season.

In previous years, the Red Devils have turned up and dominated teams from start to finish – much like against Villa – however this year they have looked vulnerable on several occasions.

Indeed 16 of United’s 27 wins have been decided by a single goal and a bit of luck – had they not found a way to win, the table would look a lot different.

In truth, they have had a relatively pedestrian season – rarely going beyond second gear and not always playing the free-flowing football we have come to expect from Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

But have they really had to? Their closest challengers, Manchester City, have been a shadow of the team which produced the most thrilling finish to a Premier League season.

After 33 games, City have already conceded more goals than throughout the whole of last season, but more concerning for Roberto Mancini has been his side’s deficiency going forward.

The Citizens have scored 59 goals – 19 goals shy of United and less than both Arsenal and Chelsea in second and third respectively – which is 20 goals short of their total at this stage last season.

In fact, the Sky Blues have been so poor this season, the title race has become more of a title walk for the Red Devils.

Other would-be challengers have also come up short this season – Arsenal have struggled to fill the void left by Robin van Persie, who has become an integral part of Fergie’s squad.

Chelsea have been off the pace and have suffered off-field distractions, following the replacement of Roberto Di Matteo with ‘fans’ favourite’ Rafa Benitez.

And under Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham Hotspur have shown glimpses of the quality needed to win the title, but they are yet to produce it on a consistent basis.

United have certainly deserved to win the league this year, but had they played better, their winning margin would have been far greater.

Yet in a season where they have been the best of a bad bunch, United could still end the year with the record number of points in a Premier League season.

Hard to believe really, isn’t it?

Image courtesy of Yahoo UK, via Youtube, with thanks.

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