Despite last summer’s personnel changes and a spate of mid-season injuries, United’s coaching staff have guided the team once again to a menacing position as the season enters its most crucial phase.
Assistant manager Mike Phelan is satisfied with the Reds’ form, but is sticking to the mantra that points mean prizes, continuing this weekend against Wolves…
Wolves are at the other end of the table from United - what do you make of this season’s Premier League relegation battle?
It’s fascinating. This time there are as many as eight teams who are all drawing rather than winning. What will be interesting is if one of the teams around the bottom gets a couple of good results against so-called top teams. That will change the pattern. But I think the more teams that are involved in that scrap, the better it is for all of them.
Your former club Burnley are involved – are you rooting for them to stay up?
Of course. They’ve worked very hard over the years to get up into the Premier League and because there’s a group of teams down there fighting for the same points, Burnley are more than capable of holding their own. I think they’ve shown that by getting good results at home, even if they’ve failed to match that away from home. But if they can win three or four more home games that might do the job.
What’s your current take on the title race?
No one team has pulled away this year, so it’s difficult to even say it’s down to ourselves and Chelsea, because a lot of teams could finish the season strongly. But it is a race and it’s a battle at times. You’ve got to make sure you’re in it, and then it can swing your way or against you at the last minute. We’ve the experience and tradition of being in these races to draw upon and it will be important that we know how to handle the run-in this season.
After having so many injuries, are you getting a bigger, fresher squad at the right time?
When we had injuries to the defenders we had to play people out of position, and it worked at first, then we had a few problems. It was important to win as many games as we could during that period, but now we look as if we’ve got most of the players back, and hopefully they’ll gel together and we can move forward.
Can having such a strong squad tip the title balance United’s way?
We’ve got plenty of games coming up and we’re going to have to use the whole squad. It’s just getting the selection right at the time, and making sure those who haven’t been