No matter what the result would be at Fulham FC tonight (it ended a score draw, oh wait, no it didn’t! a Fergie Time winner for Alejandro Garnacho!), Manchester United were set to head to the World Cup break fifth in the table.
And that is with a game in hand over the fourth and third place teams. That’s pretty good when you consider that finished sixth in the table last season.
Just give Erik ten Hag time and space, and he should get this thing right, eventually. He’s off to a pretty good start, all things considered.
-His board kind of mismanaged the summer transfer window, not helping him get the players he needed until late in the window, which caused some chaos
-He’s stood up to Cristiano Ronaldo, who has proven to be a lot more trouble than he’s worth, the second time around with this club. Ten Hag inherited Ronaldo, who needs to move on as early as possible, for all involved.
United’s true rebuild won’t really begin until CR7 and the club mutually part ways.
-The ownership of the club continues being despised by much of the fanbase, and don’t seem to care why or do anything about addressing the concerns of those who revile them.
-The Glazers are the Glazers at this point, they’re not changing, and when you have an owner, this hated, it’s got to be a distraction at best, an impairment at worst for the manager.
But all in all, when you flash back to week two, after the destruction at the hands of Brentford, where the Red Devils are right now is impressive. On that Saturday, social media was lighting up with pundits and fans saying United would get relegated.
Yes, that happened, but again I doubt a lot of people really meant it when they said it. The season is now about 1/3 in the books, and with it plenty of highs (beating Tottenham Hotspur solidly, handing table topping Arsenal their only league loss this season) and lows (the aforementioned sting by the Bees, getting utterly annihilated by Manchester City).
Overall, United is kind of where we expected them to be, or maybe slightly further along. Most important, in Ten Hag they have a true leader, a no-nonsense boss, and that is something they haven’t had in quite a long while.
Strong leadership, in the dugout, is exactly what this club needs right now.
State of the Clubs at the World Cup Break Series
Chelsea Man City Liverpool Man United
Paul M. Banks is the Owner/Manager of The Sports Bank and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He has regularly contributed to WGN News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and he co-hosts the After Extra Time podcast. Follow the website on Instagram.
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