When the English Premier League started, there were mixed emotions in Manchester. There was excitement, nervousness and uncertainty all rolled into one. The red half of Manchester, one of the most followed clubs in the world, is in transition. The arrival of new coach Louis van Gaal is the cause of mixed emotions. Excitement for some, because the Dutch strategist is well regarded for rebuilding teams; nervousness for some, because, the first foreign coach at the club may prove alien to the rich heritage. It was uncertainty for some because the failures of David Moyes era are still haunting.
The mandate is clear – get into Champions League. And with 25 games done and dusted, the good news is that United is in the reckoning for Champions League qualification. The bad news is, it’s too tight to call. With the league approaching the business end, it is anybody’s guess if United will achieve their target. A glimpse at the performances and the statistics indicate that United have kept everyone including fans on tenterhooks.
Of the 25 games played, only two have ended goal less. There are always goals, this season, when United played – home or away. They have conceded almost a goal every match (24 in 25 games) which is a fair reflection of their defensive frailties. But, they have also scored close to 2 goals a game (43 in 25) which, for many, is way short of what this talented forward line can achieve. This is no different from their form in the last 5 games where they conceded 4 and scored 7. This is nothing different from the indifferent form that the team has shown all through the season. Even in their last game against Burnley, as we predicted, the game had more than 2 goals.
With a very tricky schedule waiting, it is still not safe for United. There are only 13 games left in the season and the run-in for United and van Gaal is very difficult. Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are yet to play while there are potential banana peels in Everton, Swansea and Crystal Palace. This means 8 out of the next 13 games are high on the difficulty scale. No wonder that the betting market is still not overtly confident of Manchester United qualifying for Champions League next season. At William Hill you can get odds of 1,44 for ManU to finish in the top 4. In case you believe in Wayne Rooney and his boys to play a great season finish, Betway offers nice 2,25 for first place without Chelsea and ManCity. If they miss Europe’s highest competition again, Coral offers 2,75.
Where does it leave us at this moment? With an exciting schedule of matches starting next weekend with a trip to Swansea, it gets very engrossing. There will definitely be goals in every match; there will definitely be cards (46 yellow and 4 red cards in 25 games making it an average of 2 cards per game) in every game. Will van Gaal be able to guide his team back to Europe is the million dollar question; which is ready to unravel in the next couple of months and with a good instinct you can profit greatly by betting on the Red Devils games.