Was it just luck

Manchester United have done it again. The injury time goal helped them rescue a point and avoid a first home defeat against Sunderland in forty-one years.

Some people put this down to luck, as the equaliser was an own goal. Likewise, the last-gasp winner against Manchester City, scored in the sixth minute of injury time, was attributed to the referee’s favouritism (the extra time was supposed to be four minutes).

It pains me to say this, myself not a Scum supporter, but I have to honestly say that they have been able to pull off such late late winners and equalisers so often down the years that it is a big bias to put it down to sheer luck or some external factors. It is obvious that they have developed such confidence, self-belief and resolve that they are able to make the seemingly impossible happen. Such incredible late goals have literally won them titles, the most famous being the two last minute goals that overturned a one-goal deficit in the European Cup Final against Bayern Munich in 1999. But more importantly, that formidable reputation must have driven fear in their opponents’ minds and inspired similar successes in such tough situations. I would go so far as to say that the points they have won in those precious few last minutes have contributed to some of their league titles in recent decades.

While in some cases it did look like they were very lucky, as in yesterday’s match where the Sunderland defender was unable to get out of the way of an off-target shot and deflected it into his own goal, but as Seneca, the Roman philosopher said, "luck is indeed where preparation meets opportunity”. I happened to see those two comeback goals. The build-up was measured, self-assured and purposeful. Such confidence and discipline in the dying seconds had to come from great preparation.

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