After this season’s unpredictable start to the campaign, Manchester United are back in with a shot of winning the Premier League once again.
After picking up another three points at Watford on Saturday, Louis van Gaal’s side sit second in the table, only behind surprise leaders Leicester City.
So what three things have we learnt about the Red Devils after 13 games?
1) Louis van Gaal does know what he’s doing.
The Manchester United boss has been heavily criticised for his style of play since taking over the Red Devils. Fans and Ex-players such as Paul Scholes have publicly disapproved of the Dutchman’s approach to football. But let’s look at the facts. The club are back in the Champions League and are now in the Premier League title race once again after a disastrous spell under David Moyes. Yes, a lot of money has been spent and the goals aren’t flowing, but the side is solid and Old Trafford is becoming a fortress again. Slowly, slowly the Dutchman is proving his doubters wrong with results. You won’t hear United fans complaining if by the end of the season they’re lifting the trophy by playing this way.
2) Chris Smalling is a good player.
If you mentioned the name Chris Smalling to many England and Manchester United fans 12 months ago then many of them would have rolled their eyes. Despite being a player with fantastic attributes, the centre-back struggled to convince that he could be a top defender for both club and country. But whatever the former Fulham man has been eating over the past year seems to have done the trick as he’s been arguably the Red Devils’ best player in 2015. Now a commanding ever-present, Smalling has blossomed and is one of the first players on Louis van Gaal’s team-sheet, even if the Dutch boss doesn’t quite know his correct full name.
3) Wayne Rooney can’t be United’s main goalscorer.
After being made captain by Louis van Gaal last term there’s always been the hope that Wayne Rooney could regain the form which saw him ranked alongside the world’s top golascorers. But this season, England’s all-time record scorer has again shown that he cannot produce the goals and match winning moments on a consistent basis. He’s still a fantastic player on his day, and his role has changed a lot after losing his explosiveness, but two goals and 0 assists in 11 Premier League matches shows that he is finding it increasingly difficult to make telling contributions. Anthony Martial has chipped in but LvG needs a clinical central striker in January if United are to maintain a title charge.