Dubai: Manchester United have come from behind to win in five of their 11 league games so far this season, showing precisely the sort of resilience they’ll need to dethrone English Premier League champions Manchester City.
Saturday’s 3-2 win away to Aston Villa, after reversing the home side’s 2-0 early second half lead, shows United’s fighting spirit and mimics earlier victories against Fulham 3-2, Southampton 3-2, Liverpool 2-1 and Stoke 4-2, where the opposition went ahead first only to succumb to a Red Devils return.
Meanwhile, Manchester City have also come from behind in five of their 11 encounters, only to win three and draw two, taking two points from a possible six against Liverpool 2-2 and Stoke 1-1, despite momentum appearing to be back on their side following earlier setbacks.
City’s lack of killer-instinct is precisely why United find themselves on top, two points ahead of City with 27 points from 11 games thanks to nine wins and two losses. City, on 25 points from seven wins and four draws, could well be wondering where they lost their bite.
Some will attribute United’s re-emergence to better dealings in the transfer market over the summer. But, while Robin van Persie has scored eight goals to Edin Dzeko’s six, it’s ultimately the spirit of a team as a whole that is winning the war between two clubs on a level pegging.
Despite United’s busier transfer activity over the summer, they were actually considered weaker than City in certain areas, especially in defence and midfield with a top-heavy strike-force.
But the fire in United’s belly is fuelled by the bitterness of last season and that’s a feeling complacent City can’t buy.
Local players with understanding of the burden they carry for a city and the discipline to stay consistent under a strict coach is what has led United to four back-to-back spells as champions since 1992.
If anything it’s City’s failure to sell over the summer — namely Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez, the type of players whose heads fall as soon as the going gets tough — that has set them back.