With 12 games of the season remaining, and with United sitting in 16th place in the Premier League table I fully believe our focus should be on securing survival for next season.
Currently we have 27 points on the board meaning that we need to find another 13 before the end of the season of we are to hit the magical 40 point barrier that is generally required for survival.
Wins for Aston Villa and Southampton over the weekend mean that the gap between us and the bottom three has been reduced to just four points, but with games coming up involving ourselves and teams in and around us there is scope for us to dig ourselves out of trouble providing we get back to winning ways in our next league game at home to Southampton in just under a fortnight.
Looking at the bottom three, starting with 18th placed Reading, they need to pick up 1.4 points per game if they are to hit the 40 point safety net. They basically have to win just under half of their games. Wigan in 19th need nearly 1.6 points per game, or to win just over half of their remaining fixtures whilst rock bottom QPR (1.9 points per game) need to win just under two thirds of their remaining games.
That kind of form has been elusive for all three teams all season long and with time running out one of them has to find a bit of form if they are to avoid the drop. Usually, one of them does though so we need to look at teams outside of the bottom three just in case.
First up we have Aston Villa in 17th. They need to pick up 1.3 points per game whilst we need to pick up marginally over one point per game, or four wins and a draw if you like. A win against Southampton would ease that somewhat but they are in form and will be full of confidence after beating Manchester City at the weekend.
This is of course assuming 40 points is the actual safety net and not just a figure plucked from thin air because it’s roughly right. Since the Premier League dropped to a 20 team format back in 1995 only three teams (Sunderland – 1997, Bolton – 1998 and West Ham – 2003) have been relegated with 40 points or above. Adding the numbers up for those who finish in 18th place taking the final relegation place the average points haul required is 37 (it’s actually 36 but I’ve added an extra point to avoid any goal difference issues) which is only ten points away from us currently.
So looking at our fixtures can we identify the game where three points could be on the cards?
Man City (a)
West Brom (a)
West Ham (a)
Surely there is scope for ten points from those fixtures? Even 13 points if you want to make sure? Of course this is all very logical and as we all know football isn’t logical too often. Anyone can beat anyone on their day but I’m quietly confident we can grab the points needed to survive, put this season to bed and look forward to next season.
Famous last words?