Football

Manchester United: Premier League comeback kings

Ferguson's side are renowned for their comebacks. (©GettyImages)
Ferguson's side are renowned for their comebacks. (©GettyImages).

Former Manchester United striker, Teddy Sheringham, once asserted: "There is no finer sight in football, than Manchester United chasing down a lead." If this is true, football fans across the world have been thoroughly entertained by Sir Alex Ferguson's men this season, with the Red Devils having come from behind on numerous occasions.

Manchester United's achilles heal, however, has been their frailties in defence, more often than not falling behind in matches before sparking in to life - an unwanted habit for any team, particularly one challenging for the Premier League title. On nine occasions this season United have fallen behind, going on to win eight of those matches.

This remarkable statistic means that Manchester United have picked up 24 out of their 52 points from losing positions, and without they're resolve and strength in character to consistently turn games around, United would be left languishing in mid-table obscurity.

After their win against Newcastle United on Boxing Day - where United came from behind on three occasions - Manchester United stretched their lead at the top of the Premier League table to seven points. That gap has remained after United wrapped up the festive period with back-to-back wins against West Brom and Wigan, with United breaking from tradition and keeping two clean sheets in the process.

Despite their recent shut-outs, United’s defence has been uncharacteristically weak this season. They have already leaked in 28 goals at the season's half-way stage, only five goals fewer than they did for the entirety of last season. Manchester United, who in the past have been renowned for their defensive resolve, have won 3-2 on five occasions this season.

Championship-winning sides are often built on a solid defence, but this season, the best form of defence is attack. Having already scored 54 goals during the 2012/13 season, United comfortably lead the goalscoring charts, despite the fact that title rivals Manchester City are just four shy of United's +26 goal difference.

So, what is it about United that means they are capable of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat so consistently? United are widely regarded as the ultimate comeback kings, but is this myth or reality?

Former players would state it is largely down to Sir Alex Ferguson. It is he who has made United teams of past and present believe that it is impossible for them to lose, that it is their destiny to win. He has ingrained a 'never-say-die' attitude in players that ensures everyone gives their all right to the death. Opposition teams almost know that a Man United goal is just around the corner - and the psychological implications of this on the opposition are significant.

Over the years, Manchester United have consistently come from behind to make comeback wins part of their DNA. Who can forget the famous 5-3 victory over Tottenham Hotspurs after going down 3-0, or the 3-2 win against Juventus in the Champions League semi-final? How about the 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final having trailed the German giants 1-0 with 90 minutes on the clock? Surely this is more than mere coincidence?

These victories have made Manchester United players believe over the years that no matter what the scoreline is and no matter how little time is remaining, they can still win the game.

However pleasing it may be to turn a game on its head and claim all three points, having to come from behind every game is not sustainable. Whether United will conquer their defensive demons remains to be seen, but failure to improve will surely result in points being dropped in the not too distant future, and as a direct result, put their title bid in jeopardy.

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Manchester United

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