Sitting in fifth place in the Premier League before the season was halted, Manchester United are a long way from where we aspire to be.
If that does not sound much, then the points tally speaks more emphatically.
United are 37 points behind leaders Liverpool. While they could be on course for a statisical anamoly of a record points tally, it still shows just how far behind we are right now.
So it speaks volumes about the belief in this United team that £17 million signing Dan James has been talking about a title challenge next season.
He was quoted by Goal last month: “I think once we get them all back [injured players] and everyone back together, I think with the rotation of the squad we’ve obviously got a great chance of challenging for that title next season.”
The Bruno Fernandes effect
It is too easy for United to blame poor performances on injuries this season, but it has been a factor.
James’ comments can come across as naive, deluded, and yet, he is saying the right thing.
The ambition of a Manchester United player should be to finish first, no less.
His comments highlight the belief in this Red Devils team right now. So what changed?
Simply put, it’s the Bruno Fernandes effect. United are unbeaten since he signed, and full of confidence.
The arrival of Fernandes has had a transformative impact on this United team.
He has been the missing link, helping out a frequently isolated forward line which was struggling badly after Marcus Rashford was injured.
Fernandes is a leader on and off the pitch and he has given a sense to fans, and the players, that anything might be possible.
There are mouth watering links up to be explored between Fernandes and Rashford, and Fernandes and Pogba.
Add in the possibility of more players being added this summer in the transfer window, and United are only going to get stronger.
James’ comments don’t seem so deluded suddenly. They sum up the ambitious mood in the squad, which did not seem to exist mid-season, when United were just trying to get through a slog of fixtures.
Fernandes has brought the belief back to United, and we should enjoy the ride.
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