Manchester United have a long way to go to catch Manchester City, far further than we hoped heading into 2021.
At the start of the calendar year United even topped the Premier League table, and while it proved to be short lived, it gave fans a taste of hope.
The early promise to the year has made the subsequent collapse even worse, with United ending last season in a creditable second yet still 12 points behind City.
United can cut 22 points gap
City’s narrow win away at Brentford takes them 22 points ahead of United – although United do have three games in hand.
Three wins for United can reduce this gap to a 13 point gap, which doesn’t sound nearly as bad.
But the way United are playing, no wins are guaranteed, and it is far better to have points on the table rather than games in hand.
United’s games in hand are against Burnley, and then against Brighton and Brentford.
Catching City up is beyond United this season, sadly, and we saw at Old Trafford what the gulf in class between the two teams looks like. The current league table is representative of the two team’s performances that day.
United are competing for a top four place now, and are by no means guaranteed to get one. If United win all games in hand the team will only rank fifth.
While if Tottenham win their three games in hand too, they will push United down to sixth position.
The worst part of it, is right now it doesn’t seem surprising. United fans can barely bear to look at the league table.
But growing gap more likely
City are in strong form right now and Pep Guardiola’s side look likely to go on to win the title again with both Chelsea and Liverpool dropping points this week.
Even if United are able to win the three games in hand and cut the point gap on City to 13 points, it’s hard to see that chasm between the two sides being reduced to single digits as the season goes on.
United just don’t look convincing right now and have not done all season, and if anything, it’s more likely the gap between City and United grows back to 22 points or higher again – when all 38 games have been played.
This chasm between the two sides shows how much work United’s next permanent manager has to do.
Ralf Rangnick is trying to change the team’s fortunes and get United closing the gap again, but the early signs are that it won’t be easy and there will be more bumps in the road ahead.
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