Perhaps this isn't the optimal time to ask a question such as this. It is only the beginning of April, no trophies have been earned quite yet, and a Manchester derby still awaits us in a week's time. Nonetheless, yesterday's FA Cup defeat by Chelsea had a feeling of finality to it in regards to Manchester United's season because of the large lead in the title race and the elimination now in all cup competitions. Perhaps then, it actually does seem like a decent time for reflection.
There probably isn't a sensible supporter that would you tell that this is Sir Alex Ferguson's greatest side during his Old Trafford reign. However, there was cautious optimism for possible grand ambitions about a month ago when the Reds were flying high in three competitions. They had gone to the cathedral that is the Bernabeu and earned an impressive 1-1 draw in the opening leg of a UEFA Champions League knock-out tie, they were to have a fixture at home for a FA quarter-final tie against a reeling and Rafulated Chelsea side, and they were 12 points clear of Manchester City in the Premier League title race -- an advantage over the same the club that snatched the title in the final moments of last season in such a soul-crushing way. Unfortunately, spring's arrival has coincided with the death of United in cup competitions.
There are different degrees to the suffering that defeat brings due to the varying context of matches. Nani's undeserved sending-off in the return leg against Real Madrid at the Theatre of Dreams came after United arguably played their highest quality of football this season for the opening 56 minutes of that match. There was a sense of injustice to the result and at the very least, the highly anticipated tie -- one that had more than lived up to it's grand hype -- between the world's two biggest clubs deserved a 11 v 11 conclusion. In the weeks that followed that dramatic and dynamic European clash, a rather drab encounter with Chelsea -- which required a replay after the Reds blew a two-goal lead in the original match at Old Trafford -- resulted in a limp defeat and exit from the FA Cup. United, though, have been ruthless in league and this is clearly evident by their current 15-point lead in the title race with only 8 fixtures remaining.
At the season's beginning, the clear objective was to wrestle the title back from the 'noisy neighbours'. The main focus was on the domestic front as United and their supporters clearly desired to reestablish their supremacy in England. For the most part, assuming there isn't a collapse of epic proportions, that is likely to happen. Even a defeat by City next Monday probably wouldn't be enough to shake the belief that title number 20 is inevitable.
Although another 1-6 sort of result might rattle some. If we're all being honest, I don't think many realistically fancied the club's chances at lifting the European Cup for a fourth time back in August -- even if the usual expectations under the Ferguson era is to be perennial continental contenders. As for domestic cup competitions, any deep runs would merely have been icing on the proverbial cake.
With all of this basic context considered, how do you feel about United's season? With it looking more likely than not that the club will win the league title, would that be enough to satisfy you? Is there a sense of disappointment from the results of recent weeks that takes some of the luster off the campaign? Be sure to participate in our poll and express whether you feel that this season has been 'great', 'good', or 'disappointing'. And if you desire to elaborate on your opinion, feel free to do so in the comments section.