August is over and Man United are well out of the blocks, hoping to put a couple of disappointing seasons behind them and win some silverware. With some new key signings and departures and a side that Mourinho has tweaked to suit his philosophy, the team has impressed in their first few fixtures and there are plenty of whispers about their chances of a title challenge.
The team looks a lot fresher and motivated compared to how it looked after Van Gaal’s departure a couple of years ago. Paul Pogba seems to have shaken the lack of composure that was no doubt caused by being the world’s most expensive player and is starting to dictate tempo and terrify defences and feed balls into the formidable strike force. The sleepy defence and midfield that had at times looked incompetent now looks like a unit, with Daley Blind and Phil Jones looking like different players under the new system. Even Marouane Fellaini has made improvements to his game and drawn plaudits from Mourinho, despite an early season calf injury seeing him miss the Stoke game.
A strong start
The first 3 games were an absolute whirlwind, with 10 goals fired in in total and two 4-0 wins seen against West Ham and Swansea in the openers. Compared to last year, United are 2 points ahead after the first four games but have a much better goal record and truly dominated the first 2 games. New signing Lukaku certainly doesn’t seem concerned with the pressure to perform and has brought his form with him from Everton. He is now the league leader even with a missed penalty against Leicester, currently sitting on four goals.
The Belgian joined United in a surprise move in July, even though former club Chelsea and a host of Europe’s finest were linked with his signature. The £75 million striker has plenty of Prem experience, knows exactly where the net is and is the ideal target man for Mourinho’s defensive methodology, slotting into the big gap left behind by Zlatan. The move wasn’t the only bit of business between the Toffees and United however, with outcast / club legend Wayne Rooney leaving his spot on the bench for a place in Ronald Koeman’s side. There was no love lost thanks to Rooney rejoining his childhood club, but it was a bit of a cloaked exit for a player who enjoyed so much success in Manchester over the last decade.
Return of the Zlat
The Swede officially left the club after a contract expiry and it looked like his time in Manchester could be over thanks to a long term knee injury. Then, a quick Tweet confirmed that he had unfinished business and will re-join the Red Devils in January depending on fitness.
Mourinho also brought in a couple of bruisers in Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelöf, both of whom will provide a backbone to in the middle. Matic in particular has been instrumental in build-up play over the successful start to the season, showing exactly why Mourinho was keen to bring him in.
Champion’s League success?
Although it is still early in the season, United have certainly impressed the pundits and are currently favourites to win the league over at www.888sport.com. Shrewd gamblers might want to consider putting their money on a Champion’s League run however, a competition Mourinho knows inside out and certainly has the fire power to do well in. It will be interesting to see if Lukaku can dominate teams like Real Madrid and Juventus if he gets the chance.
With Arsenal in turmoil, City still finding their feet under Guardiola’s unique philosophy and Spurs and Liverpool both still a bit behind in terms of quality, it looks like Chelsea could be the rivals for United in the league this year.