It's this that creates the dichotomy amongst commentators, journalists and fans.
On one hand, we accept that, in football, results speak for themselves. To the pragmatist, this is the beginning and the end of the debate. On the other hand, we look at Gibson and O'Shea and wonder which other big club would have them in their way. We look at t Berbatov and say he doesn't score (or even play) in the big games. We see
Whether it be age, experience, fitness, disciplinary record or form, each Man Utd player hasn't had far to look for his problems this season.
However, and it's an enormous however, when they are together, their problems almost cease to exist.
It goes without saying that Alex Ferguson is one of the greatest managers of all time (I'm not a fan of saying 'the best' - it's too complicated an issue to be definitive about) and this season, it could be argued, will be the setting for his greatest triumph.
The word Fergie used earlier this week was 'momentum' and that is a precious if intangible commodity to have. (Ask
This is the ethic that Fergie prioritises this above all else. If you are playing bad, run yourself into the ground - regardless of your performance, you can run and tackle and try. Never stop trying.
Once you have a whole squad that subscribes to this ethos it becomes very hard to convince them that they can be stopped.
Aside from this, the key to the performances is in Fergies management of each game. Every player knows what is expected of them and also what their role will be in any given position in any given formation.
On the face of it, when you see Giggs at left back, Valencia at right back, Rooney practically centre midfield or O'Shea on the pitch at all, that it is a case of square pegs in round holes but Fergie doesn't ask his players to do things they can't do. Giggs isn't expected to play at left back like Evra does. He'll do things differently. Better at some things, worse at others. The rest of the team reacts accordingly. Giggs isn't gonna fly past them on the left wing - he'll maybe come inside more, play passes but he'll be comfortable. Almost like evolution at work, they adapt to survive.
Now, we are appraoching the home straight and if you are still competing at this stage, you have a chance. All of Utd's graft has paid off and the squad that nearly everyone wrote off is in the mix.
Since Inter eeked out the necessary result in the Nou Camp in last seasons Champions League semi-final, I have longed for this season to be the one that would result in an unprecedented second treble that would surely mean
Only last night did I realise that the same may be said for Man Utd and the way things stand today, I would not back against them to do it.