When it comes to winning trophies, very few current players in modern football are better equipped to impart advice than Raphael Varane.
Varane has experienced World Cup success and a near miss with France, along with four Champions League titles with Real Madrid, and three La Liga titles.
Manchester United are currently on the periphery of the title mix this season, sitting fourth, one point off second, albeit with a long way to go, 20 games left to play.
Just to be in the conversation for the title was unthinkable before the season, and impossible after two games. So to discuss it, even ambitiously, is a pleasant feeling.
Varane says United can mount title challenge
Speaking following Manchester United’s 2-1 win over rivals City, Varane told The Athletic that he is not getting ahead of himself.
However, he did not want to rule out the possibility of United winning a record 21st title, especially when confidence right now is high.
He admits the Premier League is as competitive as the Champions League, with the demands unlike anything he has experienced before.
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Varane added that he is confident United have improved the defensive side of the game, and now believes that it will be the team’s attackers who will be the difference between title success, and falling short.
“Everything is possible. We’ll just take it game by game. It’s a long way to go and it’s very difficult. The intensity of every game is incredible, the physical effort.
“It’s like the same intensity of a big Champions (League) game every game. The rhythm is very high.
“The players are very well prepared physically. We know how difficult it is. But we’re solid, we’re strong.
“We just need to use the quality players with the ball.”
Varane is right that Manchester United will require some individual magic in attack to go on and win trophies.
His success was achieved in a Real Madrid side with peak Cristiano Ronaldo scoring goals relentlessly, helping to clinch trophies.
But it is a two-way street. One of Sir Alex Ferguson‘s famous quotes was, ‘Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.”
United’s defence has been hugely improved under Erik ten Hag. The goal conceded against City at the weekend was the first Premier League goal against United at Old Trafford since the Arsenal game in September. United won both matches. Some would say that is title-winning defensive form.
It’s no secret that United’s attack has been the weaker aspect of the team’s play this season. Anthony Martial is too brittle and has succumbed to injury again in the face of a tough fixture schedule.
The recent addition of Wout Weghorst can make a big difference, but it is the ‘quality players’ around him who will be expected to provide the spark, if United are going to win silverware.