After a busy summer, early signs are good for Jose Mourinho’s new look side
DUE to the managerial upheaval at Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill’s departure in 2013, United supporters have grown used to the rollercoaster ride that is the summer transfer window.
A journey that started in June with the Court of Arbitration for Sport and Antoine Griezmann, and led us to Nemanja Matic, with the usual links to Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale along the way, will shortly draw to a close.
The time to properly judge the success of the window is of course on August 31 at around 11pm, when it eventually, thankfully even, slams shut.
But, despite Jose Mourinho’s craving for a fourth United signing, the addition of Matic alongside Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof – to a squad that won the Europa League and League Cup last season – should provide him with a confidence and belief that he can meet his targets this campaign.
Don’t be fooled by the Super Cup final and the 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid, because as we’ve seen since against Barcelona, Zinedine Zidane’s side are a class apart.
First, United need to conquer the Premier League again and, without question, better is expected this time around.
The early signs are good.
Twelve months into Mourinho’s reign, a more robust and expansive United team is emerging.
Most of his squad has had a year working with him, so, if you’ve made it this far congratulations… you’ve got another season at least.
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In the opening 4-0 Premier League win against West Ham at Old Trafford we saw already the value of Lukaku and Matic – who underlined perfectly why having so much Premier League experience in the bank is important.
With Mourinho reportedly ready to wait until January before making further additions to his squad, can he really mount a sustained challenge for the title?
Or (as is often the case) are us United fans getting a little ahead of ourselves?
The main beneficiaries of his decision to wait should be Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Lukaku’s arrival all but confirms the pair will fight it out with Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard for one of the other forward roles, and Mourinho’s decision not to sign a wide player is one that all four should take confidence from.
Rashford got the nod against The Hammers and showed a maturity and calmness that was missing from his game last season.
Still only 19, the youngster set Lukaku up for the opener with a beautiful pass and was unfortunate on a couple of occasions not to score himself, with one strike hitting the foot of the post.
It’s slightly different for Martial who is a couple of years older and, arguably, more gifted. Like Rashford, Martial is direct and pacey, but his close control and clinical finishing just give him the edge.
Where they both need to improve is defensively, which is why Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic has consistently been linked with a move.
Unless it’s Bale, though, the majority of signings from abroad represent more of a risk.
The benefits are huge if they work, but for every Ruud van Nistelrooy there’s a Radamel Falcao or Angel Di Maria, which is why placing faith in the quartet of Martial, Rashford, Lingard and Mata, at least until the January transfer window, might not be a bad call.
The rewards? Huge. Get it right and you might just end the season with a title winning medal.
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