If there’s one thing Manchester United have not lacked this season it is entertainment, but ex-Reds striker Andy Cole would settle for fewer heart-thumping, last-gasp comebacks in favour of more solid performances and routine wins.
The Reds top both the Barclays Premier League and Champions League Group H tables, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s team have gone behind 12 times during 17 matches in all competitions this season. There are extenuating circumstances, of course – like a defensive injury crisis that has taken time to clear – but as Sir Alex has said, relying on strikers to bale you out is a risky game.
“The football has been great to watch recently,” Cole told ManUtd.com. “And the strikers we’ve got are always going to grab the headlines and come to the fore. It’s not great for the heart-rate sometimes, but it’s exciting for the punters. And it’s probably great for the neutrals. But I think the manager, with his status, if he could put a finger on the reason why we’re conceding goals, or he had the immediate solution, he would put it in place today.”
Asked if he was pleased – and maybe a little surprised – that United have taken top spot considering the defensive injury problems, he said: “I wouldn’t say I’m surprised because when you have the quality of players United have, particularly in the attacking positions, there’s always a chance you’re going to run into a spell of form. I think we hit form when we had a big performance against Newcastle. I think that got us playing some real good stuff again. That’s always a positive.”
The we’ll-score-more-than-you attitude of recent games draws natural comparisons with United’s Treble-winning side. In a more pragmatic age, however, the risks are arguably greater.