It goes without saying that no Premier League title is won in January. There is still way too much football to be played before anyone can get carried away about being victorious in May. The great Sir Alex Ferguson would always want to keep his players hungry for the months ahead rather than let them become complacent.
In a recent interview with Betway, five-time Premier League winner Andy Cole discusses Manchester United’s resurgence this season under Erik ten Hag and how he sees the title race.
As I suggest before, no title is won in January and that’s why I find talk of United being in a title race premature. The only reason the media are making a big deal of it is because they want to prepare articles about United’s failure come the end of the season, when our objective is to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League.
That doesn’t change the fact that it is a good time for betting on football. You can get United at decent odds if you genuinely believe we can do it this season, but you’ve got to remember that Ten Hag’s plan will be to secure Champions League football for next season. Anything else would be a bonus.
Cole, just like ourselves, is happy with how United are playing this season. You can feel optimism brewing at Old Trafford and that will only grow if the Glazers sell the club this year.
When asked about what he has made of Ten Hag this season, Cole was quick not to draw comparisons with the great Sir Alex Ferguson. That would be premature like any of the title race talk we are being dragged into.
“I wouldn’t be comparing him to other managers. Momentum is very important and they’re going through a really good spell. But football is about peaks and troughs and if they suddenly go two or three without a win then it becomes a different conversation again.
“At the moment, he’s getting some really good results, which is what everyone wants, and he has everybody on track and in sync. There’s a clear system, every player knows what he’s doing, and that’s a really good thing.
“From the outside looking in, United have been missing discipline. That’s what Alex Ferguson was all about and after he left it became a problem. It comes from the top and Ten Hag has laid down the law.
“Some managers might have let Marcus Rashford get away with oversleeping at Wolves the other week, but he decided not to.”
Cole was then asked if he saw United being part of the title race this season.
He responded: “Sir Alex Ferguson always said to us that the title race doesn’t get decided in January, it gets decided in April. It’s too hard to give a prediction for the title with so many games to go because there are so many peaks and troughs to come.
“Over 38 games you will always hit a rough patch, but Arsenal and Man Utd haven’t had one yet and we don’t know how they’ll deal with it when they do because they’re not used to being in this position.
“Arsenal are doing extremely well, they’re playing some very good football, but when that rough patch happens it will be a test. Not many of that dressing room have been in that position. If they lose a couple of games, it’s suddenly right back on again. Players like Oleksandr Zinchenko, who I really like, will be so crucial in those moments because he’s at least had those experiences. City seem to be having their rough patch now, but with them you know it won’t be long until they’re back at it. They have so much experience in that dressing room now. They’ll soon be creating chances and scoring goals again.”