As we approach this weekend’s game at Old Trafford there is an entirely different aura about our beloved football team these days.
Indeed as we head north, we go there with confidence, stability and a recent track record of respectability and resilience. In truth It’s not been an overnight change, because we’ve been much more competitive at Old Trafford in recent seasons, even if we do lack that elusive victory (that clearly should have been ours after ‘the goal that clearly was: Pedro Mendes vs Roy Carroll’).
Yet this season things really have been shored up and we hit the road now with real belief. Some dismal individual results (Stoke at home and the Wolves double are never far from memory) could have destroyed ambitions of an interesting season finale, but didn’t. Heartbreaking defeat against doomed Portsmouth ahead of the two big London derbies could have sent shockwaves of insecurity, but again, didn’t.
And it’s this wonderful word created by the ever-reliable Iain Dowie: ‘bouncebackability,’ that has defined this season’s strides of progress. Any period of gloom and negativity has not been allowed to linger or derail our aspirations for the next game.
Did anyone seriously expect six points from our last two games following the semi-final knock out? The performance against Arsenal was one of resilience, industry and passion and ultimately we deserved the victory but, all things considered, the one against Chelsea was on another level; the complete performance, without a hint of insecurity.
What made those two results even more heart-warming was that we managed them without the one man who most would say was essential in order to contemplate such a feat: Sgt Wilson Palacios. Indeed, to run the rule over Arsenal’s featherweight midfield fairies is one thing, but to brush aside and roll over the Chelsea machine is entirely another. In his absence we produced two performances almost in Palacios’ honour and certainly in his fierce style.
We approach the United game (and indeed our final two away games up North) having finally banished the notion of ‘Southern softies’ and going in with genuine self-confidence. Of course we now believe we can get a result there.
More importantly, should we not get a result, we can hold our heads up and look forward to the next game safe in the knowledge that one result won’t kick start the domino-effect of old and won’t de-rail our fourth place target. We now have something worth more than even a win at Old Trafford: We have BOUNCEBACKABILITY!!