United’s manager and players still talk loftily of making one of the top two positions, even with a 15 point gap to Swindon and Bristol City.
A year ago last weekend United lost 2-1 at Notts County (when Jamal Campbell-Ryce was their best player), a week after beating Aston Villa away in the FA Cup.
This year, a week after beating a Premier League in the Cup United followed up with a fine performance to beat a top team in Preston North End.
A year ago United didn’t really start to get going until after the replay win at Fulham in early February.
So if United have started their run three weeks earlier it’s a good job - based on last year’s league tables, they need to.
On January 11th 2014 United were 19th in the table, on 25 points from 25 games.
Top were Brentford on 55 points, four more than current leaders Swindon. More importantly, perhaps, in seventh place a year ago (United’s final placing), were Walsall on 38 points.
United therefore ‘caught up’ 13 points last season from here on in.
This season they have to catch up 15 points on better teams than Walsall.
To do so would overshadow last season’s rise, not in terms of the number of positions gained in climbing up the table, but in terms of the difficulty of the task.
Beating Preston was a good start, but if United don’t beat MK Dons, Swindon and Bristol City in the coming weeks it will be almost impossible.
But football people will tell you that nothing is impossible until there aren’t enough matches left to get the points you need.
I don’t know whether they’re trying to convince themselves more than they are the fans when they say that!