Are Manchester United a slice of luck away from a title charge?

Luck is a term that’s thrown around and Jose Mourinho has highlighted more than a couple of times this year. Luck can influence the finest margins, flipping outcomes and breaking hearts in a matter of seconds. Of course, there are always the arguments of “you make your own luck” and “if you do something well enough you don’t need luck”. But this is not always the case.

For some of the elite players who; are always aiming for the fine margins, always trying for perfection, luck can take its toll. After all, a little bit of luck can have a domino effect. It only takes a bit of luck to start a player’s purple patch, just as it can do the opposite. Just ask Javier Hernandez, a man who scored with a deflection off his own face at Wembley to kickstart his Manchester United career.

United fans this year will tell you, luck has played a genuine part in more than enough games this year. For a start, there are the number of times the Red Devils have struck the woodwork. After being denied twice on Tuesday night, the total rose to 27 times, the most of any other team in the league in all competitions. Of course, there will always be seasons where the frame plays a part, but this year the familiar “ding” has denied United some valuable points. Draw after draw has been more than frustrating for the United faithful, but not “Louis van Gaal style” frustrating, more “it’s getting closer” frustrating. The style of football has improved, the chances have been created more frequently, the excitement in the final third has almost returned. An obvious missing piece is the lack of goals, something the woodwork has denied on countless occasions.

United have 12 “snore draws” this season, games where it almost became certain that no matter how hard they tried they that they just would not score, that their luck was out. Seven of these games actually saw United it the post at least once. These margins are fine, very fine. The flight of the ball altering little more than an inch on these occasions completely changes the story of United’s season. With stats even suggesting that at the end of March, United would be second if not for the goal frame.

The team’s leading “woodwork hitter” is also the world’s most expensive player. A player who’s ability is often questioned by rival fans. However, Pogba has hit the post a staggering nine times this season, would it be fair to say people’s opinions would most likely be very different if those chances had gone in? Of course, a player who cost £89 million is expected to take these chances and not need luck, but everyone needs a little luck every now and again. Yet despite this, fans should feel hopeful, their star player is making or receiving chances. He is only a few steps away from making a truly telling influence on his team’s results.

The sound of the woodwork has caused fans to tear their hair out at times this year but it also provides promise. United are knocking the door of success, they’re creating chances worthy of goals. Yet that little element of luck they need is denying them of their chance to challenge for the league title. The element of luck that seemed to be-be ever-present during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign. Only United fans have to hope that no mirrors were broken during any final hairdryer treatments.

Written by Anthony Withington


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