Manchester United have quietly continued building their winning pedigree by winning football’s secondary prizes following the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. It started with Louis Van Gaal’s FA Cup victory and saw Jose Mourinho claim the English Football League Cup, now called the Carabao Cup, and Europa League trophy during his debut campaign.
Teams like Liverpool and Spurs would salivate at that type of trophy haul and recent success. Pursuing secondary trophies came at the expense of a strong league finish despite the high standards set at United. Fortunately, United still managed to return to the Champion’s League this season, which was the very minimum requirement last year.
Romelu Lukaku, Victor Lindelof and Nemanja Matic are the three men expected to take Mourinho’s team forward this season. At least one further signing can be reasonably expected and Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be a mid-season addition should his recovery at Carrington continue unimpeded.
This season’s new signings will reinforce a spine that was built last season with the additions of Pogba, Mkhitaryan, and Bailly. With the exception of Mkhitaryan, Mourinho has built United a spine of players over six feet in height. Simply put, this team is “yuge.”
Manchester United can claim a relatively successful pre-season against opposition that included Manchester City, Barcelona and Real Madrid that saw Mourinho employ different formations with varying success. Based on pre-season, Mourinho will deploy 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 depending on the opposition.
What was most evident during the pre-season games, and particularly during the UEFA Supercup defeat to Real Madrid, is how well drilled and disciplined Mourinho has this team. There is a clarity of roles and responsibilities that will cover some of the quality issues of certain players, especially the defenders.
Manchester United will win the Premier League. United’s closest rivals, apart from Manchester City, have failed to significantly to improve. Tottenham have stagnated, Arsenal will Arsenal, Liverpool look far off even if they sign a proven defender, and Chelsea may regress this season.
The Battle of Manchester will decide the title
Last season saw Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola behave amicably, but after spending more on fullbacks than Vladimir Putin does yachts, Pep will be under severe pressure to win. Their season-long confrontation could rival the verbal rhetoric shared between Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and see a return to the Pep and Jose of La Liga.
Both managers will bring the fire and fury this season. Guardiola’s new signings will have a larger adjustment period to their coach and the league. Mourinho has emphasized signing “Mourinho players” this transfer window and that could tip the difference to the red side of Manchester.
Believe me folks, you’ll never see a title battle like you’ll see this year. It’ll be “yuge.”
Premier League: Manchester United
Carabao Cup: Quarter finals
FA Cup: Semi-finals
Champions League: Quarter-finals
Top Four: United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool
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