And so we are here in the second week of December facing this oddity.
Manchester United is 5 points off the top of the table with a game in hand. If they win their game in hand, which happens to be the Manchester derby, then Man U is only 2 points off Liverpool and Tottenham.
Even more perplexing, United is still in with the slimmest of chances in the Champions League. They need to draw away at Leipzig, who are sitting 3rd in the Bundesliga. Even mentioning United in the rarefied company of the Champions League just does not sound right.
So will this motley crew of United players have what it takes to draw with a team which is currently 3rd place in a league which is essentially a step-up from the farmers league of Ligue 1.
The issue is as it is always – zonal marking, or the lack of understanding thereof of what zonal marking entails. West Ham scored an easy goal in last Saturday’s fixture to take the lead. United look dead and buried in that game until a half-time substitution saw the enigmatic Bruno Fernandes come on. Cue 3 goals in 30 minutes, including 2 worldies, one from Paul Pogba and the other a poachers goal of the highest quality from that kid, Mason Greenwood.
The final score-line flattered United who lack the defensive steel required to be taken as serious contenders for anything except for the “Don’t Get Your Hopes Up” trophy.
So looking at the fixtures out there, Manchester United may finally have to face their long overdue date with Lady Reality. A defeat in Germany, followed by a thrashing by the Citizens, which itself was a derelict football club transformed into an Hedge Fund by the deep wallets only Middle Eastern oil money could afford. Don’t get your hopes up, United fans – it seems more likely for President Trump to be re-elected than United to offer any serious challenge in the Premier League or in the Champions League this season.