Can Manchester United rescue their reputation as a formidable force in the Premier League by tasting success under Jose Mourinho?
The question on everyone’s lips is; can Jose Mourinho bring back the glory days to Old Trafford? His track record suggests he can do just that but an underwhelming sixth place finish last season has placed doubts in the supporters’ minds.
Fortunately, they’ve began preparation in promising style by winning six of their seven pre-season fixtures. Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof have been added to the squad over the summer and a promising crop of youth products are set to break into the senior set-up.
Manchester United endured a dismal first season under Jose Mourinho in terms of their Premier League form. They finished sixth place, seven points outside the top four and scored only the eighth highest amount of goals.
However, Jose Mourinho secured UEFA Champions League qualification by beating Dutch giants Ajax in the UEFA Europa League final in May. They also clinched the Community Shield against Leicester City in August and EFL Cup against Southampton in March.
They relied heavily on top goal scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored 17 of their 54 goals in the Premier League last season. The former Sweden international sustained a catastrophic knee injury in April, which subsequently ended his spell at Old Trafford.
Despite being released at the end of the season, a miracle recovery could reignite his career at Manchester United. Rumours continue to circulate around the press regarding a possible return for the new season.
He’d be a vital addition to the squad, who are assembling an incredibly strong force in the final third. Imagine the calibre of Romelu Lukaku, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford all vying for a regular spot in the starting line-up. Well, this fanatical dream could possibly become a reality in the near future.
Any argument is would any of these three players be willing to spend time out of the starting line-up? It’d be destructive for Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s grandiose ego, harmful for Marcus Rashford’s development and contradictory for Romelu Lukaku who headed to Old Trafford with the perception that he’d been the talisman.
Overall, there are many positives for Manchester United and Jose Mourinho to consider heading into the 2017/18 season. He’s assembled a strong team, with great squad depth and tons of potential.
Will the former kings return to reclaim their crown? I’d put my money on it but the caldron of the Premier League can swallow up any major outfit, even one as high-profile as Manchester United. It’ll be an interesting, pulsating and surprising season but the foundations put in place could be the prerequisite for success…
Have Manchester United done enough in the transfer window?
Personally, I think they’ve done very well in the transfer window, although one or two more additions are possibly required. They only signed four players during last summer’s transfer window and I expect them to acquire the same amount this year.
Ivan Perisic and Gareth Bale have been linked with the red devils in recent weeks and either would be key signings. Anthony Martial declined heavily during Mourinho’s debut season, although he’s improved remarkably in pre-season.
This suggests he’s prepared to fight for his place in the team but this is unlikely to sway Mourinho away from purchasing another left midfielder. He thrives on competition for places and could have the perception that Martial could potentially improve by having another high-profile player competing for a starting place.
Manchester United netted only 54 goals in the Premier League last season, which was less than the likes of Everton and Bournemouth. Mourinho has emphasised United’s craving for attacking talent and has potentially amended this dilemma with the signings of Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku.
Romelu Lukaku, despite the hefty price tag, promises to be an essential part of United’s attacking armour this season. He’s a flat-track bully, who’ll hopefully prove to be decisive in turning draws into victories.
Nemanja Matic, who joined from Chelsea for £40 million, is the perfect replacement for midfield veteran and legend Michael Carrick. His work in the midfield goes undermined but his impact will send vibrations throughout the entire team.
His presence will free the likes of Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba, who could potentially be combining with the Serb in a midfield trio. Pogba was forced to retreat to deeper positions and struggled to penetrate the ball into attacking zones.
Herrera has great balance between defensive and attacking duties but conclusively played a deeper role due to United’s lack of defensive midfielder. Matic has won two Premier League titles in the past three seasons, is Premier League proven and perfectly designed for the role he’s required to play at Manchester United.
Victor Lindelof still has a lot to prove after a very nerve-racking pre-season, which cast various questions on Manchester United’s defensive issues. They have some good defenders but lack a stand-out leader at the back.
Bailly has the potential characteristics to suggest he could be a strong leader in 2 to 3 season’s time. The partnership between Bailly and Jones looked solid against Real Madrid and this could be a regular fixture depending on whether they can remain fit.
Analysis & Predictions
It’s a tough task predicting the Premier League, especially in recent seasons due to the increasing amount of competiveness.
Manchester City look incredibly strong due to their recent signings and remarkable improvement under Pep Guardiola. Chelsea can’t be underestimated, Arsenal could be tough opponents due to their transition to a back-three and Tottenham Hotspur are also candidates.
Liverpool and Everton can’t be left out of the title race debate either; especially considering the latter’s transfer activity this summer. It’s set to go right down to the wire but Manchester United have the squad, manager and quality to reclaim the Premier League title after a four year absence.
What could United’s biggest attacking threat potentially be next season? Their strength in depth will be beneficial to combating fixture congestion and it’ll also give them various options in their game approach.
For example, Marouanne Fellaini (depending on whether he remains at Old Trafford) can be slotted into midfield to play a specific role. If United are searching for a late equaliser or winner, he can utilize his aerial advantage effectively to suit the long-ball style of play.
Paul Pogba can dictate attacking play in the final third, due to the prospect of him playing a more attacking role following Matic’s arrival. Ferguson built his style on combination play but Manchester United have seriously lacked cohesion since the famous Scot’s retirement.
The partnerships of Gary Neville and David Beckham, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes, Dennis Irwin and Ryan Giggs, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole and Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney would combine telepathically to ensure continuous success.
Where are these potential partnerships in the current Manchester United team? They are seriously lacking! Antonio Valencia and Henrikh Mkhitaryan could form a good partnership down the right and the promising midfield trio of Herrera, Matic and Pogba could improve team cohesion.
It’ll all be revealed in the new season but it’s always fun to predict and debate the possible eventualities. I think they can definitely finish in the top four and form a serious Premier League title pursuit.