After Manchester United suffered a worrying loss to Brighton on Friday night, United fans lambasted the club for their worrying inconsistency during the Premier League season.
It has been an interesting season for Manchester United fans, for lack of a better word. It really has been a strange one to follow. Despite some obvious marked improvements, the Red Devils clearly have some steps to take before the club reaches the lofty heights it once graced.
One of the most noticeable improvements has been the club’s performances against the top six. In 2016/17, in games against Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham, the club returned a measly 10 points from a possible 30. With just the two wins, one each over Chelsea and Tottenham, the club struggled against quality opposition. However, it clearly has been a tale of two halves, as the club significantly improved results in this domain this season. This term the club have achieved 18 points out of a possible 30, including wins over Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool in their last eight matches.
Victories over quality opposition is evidence of the robustness that Jose Mourinho has instilled into his side, and their improvement on the field has been shadowed by the success of their city rivals Manchester City and Pep Guardiola, even if the red half of Manchester did stun the champions in a three-goal comeback to ruin their title parade.
Despite results evidently improving, it is the consistency of the brand of football and of the progress that the United faithful have called into question. After impressive triumphs, Mourinho’s charges often seem to lose their sense of momentum and get rolled over by relative minnows after what seemed to be significant progress against their title rivals.
Of the club’s seven losses this term, three of those have come against the newly-promoted sides, along with the seemingly despondent West Brom turning over the Red Devils at Old Trafford after United’s stunning comeback win over City.
It is difficult to ignore United’s 77 points in 36 games, form that has them on course to at least achieve 80 points, a feat not achieved since Sir Alex Ferguson departed the club, however, the ability to string a set of results together has to be a red mark on what should have been seen as a successful season.
There may have been little United could have done to keep pace with Guardiola’s charges, but avoiding a run of three consecutive draws against Leicester, Burnley and Southampton would go a long way in appeasing the fans’ worries.
But, time will tell if this is a stumbling block in progress or merely an issue that is part of the evolution of the squad.