This season, Manchester United have to build on their success from the last campaign and become serious challengers for the Premier League. Since his arrival in 2016, there is no doubt Jose Mourinho has helped to stop the decline United experienced since Sir Alex Ferguson departed the club in 2013 after 26 years as manager.
Victory in both the EFL Cup and Europa League were a sign that the Red Devils have taken a positive step back to becoming one of the top teams in European football.
Yet, with the money they have spent, United have no excuse not to be amongst the elite Premier League clubs and battling for both the league and the Champions League next season.
In one year, the 13-time Premier League champions have brought in Paul Pogba from Juventus for £89m, which was a world record transfer fee until PSG’s signing of Neymar this transfer window, Romelu Lukaku for £75m from Everton, Nemanja Matic from Chelsea for £40m and Victor Lindelof from Benfica for £31m.
These new assets were acquired to help form an incredibly talented squad that Mourinho now must bring together to challenge the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City.
How will Mourinho use his new stars?
Next season the Portuguese manager is likely to stick with a 4-3-3 formation to accommodate his new attacking stars and maintain a stable midfield.
Mourinho’s starting line up could read: the ever reliable David de Gea in goal; Antonio Valencia offering strength and pace down the right -who Mourinho has recently rated claiming “there is no better right-back in football,”- Eric Bailly and Lindelof playing as a solid pair in the centre and the technical Daley Blind at left-back.
In the middle, Matic will sit the deepest and be the most defensive of the trio. Ander Herrera sits in front of him as the engine in midfield, with Pogba given more of a free role to roam forward.
“He needs time but [his] experience, intelligence, a genius in the way he thinks – he thinks football,” said Mourinho after Matic’s debut.
On the left of the attacking trident up front, Marcus Rashford offers blistering pace and fast feet, on the right Henrikh Mkhitaryan with his tidy dribbling and knack for scoring goals, and leading the line, Lukaku, with his immense power, sheer brute strength and goal-scoring prowess.
Has Mourinho got United ready?
We have already seen United’s new boys gel for their new club in their tour of America and pre-season friendlies.
United’s pre-season started with wins against Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake. They then played three matches in the International Champions Cup, which included a 2-0 victory over Manchester City, a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid and a 1-0 defeat to Barcelona, before beating Valerenga 3-0 and then Sampdoria 2-1.
However, in their last game before the start of the Premier League, they suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of lasts year’s Champions League winners Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup final on Tuesday.
Between Isco and Luka Modrić, Manchester United’s midfield looked feeble compared to their Spanish opposition and even when United did manage to create a clear scoring chance, Pogba or Lukaku could find the net from less than ten yards out.
Los Blancos showed Mourinho’s men that there is still a big gap between the two clubs and gave United an indication of what they will have to expect if they want compete at the highest level this season.
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