There has been a notable upturn in fortunes since our new arrivals joined the ranks in January.
Of course it’s early days so far, but performances have improved and results have followed along with renewed hope amongst the fan base.
One thing that is spurring on this upturn is undoubtedly competition for places which is one thing the new guys have given in pretty much every department. From defence to attack the whole squad has been strengthened, and with players returning from international duty and injury that competition for places can only get better.
Cheik Tiote will return from the African Cup of Nations having seen his international side eliminated by Nigeria which gives Alan Pardew a problem he probably hasn’t faced during his time at United. Granted the inclusion of Tiote is probably less of a headache for the Tottenham match as I dare say he will be rested and have to make do with a spot on the bench, but beyond that there is a selection dilemma.
It would be unfair to drop James Perch. Like him or loathe him he’s performed well in our back-to-back victories so why should he pay the price? If it’s not broken don’t fix it. It’s similar to the situation Vurnon Anita found himself in when replaced by Perch. The Dutchman didn’t do a lot wrong and probably lost his place unfairly but that’s just the way it goes I guess. Rightly or wrongly.
A fully fit and performing Cheik Tiote will take James Perch’s spot in the side of that there is little doubt, but this isn’t a “who should play” kind of article and this is where I’ll stop that kind of thinking. The point is, we have a hell of a lot of options when it comes to getting into the side now.
It’s not just in midfield either. Look at our defence. Mike Williamson has gone from enforced first choice to fourth choice within the blink of an eye. We have depth at centre-back for the first time in a long time and all it took was the addition of one player and the return to fitness of another.
At full-back we also have plenty of options and can cover most eventualities through either the numbers or versatility of options, and up front the addition of Yoan Gouffran has given us more options. When you add Hatem Ben Arfa in there it boosts us further although I still think we need another striker.
It’s a glorious problem to have. Right throughout the team we have competition for places which is a good thing. It spurs players on to keep their place and they don’t become comfortable. They know if they hit a bad patch they are out of the side and the new player coming in knows he has to play at the top of his game to keep the shirt.
What a problem to have!