After three dismal seasons in the British top tier, Manchester United will be looking forward to bring back their old glory under the stewardship of new coach, a Premier League veteran, Jose Mourinho.
Louis Van Gaal tried his best to rebuild the team that finished seventh in the league table in 2013/14, the worst one in the club’s history. In his first season, the Dutchman guided the team to a top four finish and the expectations were more in the following one. However, the team failed to secure a Champions League spot, even after getting several chances to book it, throughout the season. The displays in the English League Cup and the European competitions were utterly poor as well. The only bright spot in an otherwise dour season was the FA Cup, which Manchester United won last May. Unfortunately, that lone success was not sufficient to keep Van Gaal’s position in the club and right after the season, the club management brought Jose Mourinho to replace the Netherlands international.
Let us start the discussion with a look at what Mourinho has achieved so far.
|Uniao de Leiria||2001-02||45%|
|Porto||2002-04||72%||Premeira Liga (2), UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup|
|Chelsea||2004-07||67%||Premier League (2), FA Cup, League Cup (2), FA Community Shield|
|Inter Milan||2008-10||62%||Serie A (2), Coppa Italia, UEFA Champions League|
|Real Madrid||2010-13||72%||La Liga, Copa Del Rey, Supercopa de Espana|
|Chelsea||2013-15||59%||Premier League, League Cup|
The Mourinho effect:
As you can see above, the Portuguese coach has won the top honours in four different countries. He has also guided Porto and Inter Milan to emerge victorious in the UEFA Champions League. Naturally, it can be said beyond doubt that he is able to manage a club of Manchester United’s stature. He has already added a new feather to his crown, winning his very first match in charge of Manchester United as his team won the FA Community Shield last Sunday.
However, one interesting fact is that Mourinho finished a European top tier league at the top if and only if his team were at the top in December end. That means, Manchester United will have to play really well in the first half of the season, should you believe in statistical jargon and inexplicable coincidences. And it will be interesting to see if the new boss can get his loose ends tied pretty soon.
Over the summer transfer window, Manchester United have acquired the services of four important players – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Eric Bailly and Paul Pogba. Let us see how the team may look like with these new players.
Goalkeeper and Defenders:
Manchester United can certainly boast of arguably the best goalkeeper in the league. David De Gea has been phenomenal for Manchester United for the last three seasons and this one should not be any exception. However, a problem with the squad is the lack of a backup for the Spaniard. While Sergio Romero is highly rated by some people, he has often been inconsistent with his performances, both for the club and the country. Should De Gea get an unwanted injury, the side might just run into deep trouble.
So far as the defenders are concerned, Chris Smalling will be leading from the front. He will have Daley Blind and Eric Bailly to partner him in the center, while Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia are going to share the responsibilities of the side backs. The team also have some promising young defenders in the likes of Tim Fosu Mensah, Cameron Borthwick Jackson and Alex Tuanzebe. While the pack do not look invincible on paper, no one can forget that the same herd barring the new arrival conceded the least number of goals last season.
Mourinho has already revealed that he does not need experienced Bastian Schweinsteiger in his plans and he has already secured a record-breaking deal with French superstar Paul Pogba. Along with Michael Carrick, Morgan Schneiderlin, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Marouane Fellaini, Pogba will form a brilliant midfield, with class, skill, youth and experience all in there. Lingard, in particular, has the potential of becoming the dark horse for the side. He was really good last season and he started this one in style too. Against Leicester City in the FA Community Shield, the youngster scored a brilliant goal to get Manchester United off the mark. If every midfielder can play up to their potentials, the gaffer will have a hard time to pick up his starting lineup.
This is possibly the section Manchester United look absolutely formidable. The likes of Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan along with young sensation Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford in the side can wreck havoc on the opponents. Zlatan, the hyped transfer of the summer, has already opened his account last Sunday, when he scored the winner against Leicester City. Rooney and the Swedish superstar have shown promises of combining really well and that will cause severe headache for the opponent coaches. All it remains to see is if this forward lineup will be able to live up to their potentials.
What to expect from the new season?
Manchester United will kick off their campaign on Sunday, against Bournemouth. They will face Southampton and Hull City in the next two games, before locking horns with their arch rivals Manchester City. Mourinho will be looking forward to start the journey with four wins in a row. If that happens, there won’t be any looking back for the side. They have all the necessary ingredients – a few superstars, prolific goalscorers, an amazing goalkeeper, a tactical genius and some very talented youngsters – to win the league.
A minor issue that may hamper the league title challenge is the engagement in UEFA Europa League along with the domestic competitions. Although United have a strong reserve bench, a few main players including Luke Shaw and Rooney are pretty injury prone. It might be a good idea to concentrate more on the domestic competitions and the Premier League than on the European competition. Nevertheless, the Red Devils supporters have enough reasons to be hopeful about for a much better season this time.
Do you think Manchester United will be able to win trophies this season? Share your thoughts in the comments below!