Manchester United’s first season under Jose Mourinho was one of transition and they will be relatively pleased with the way it played out. It was underwhelming to finish 6th in the Premier League, but they performed well in the cup competitions as they won both the League Cup and the Europa League. The latter has given United a Champions League place for the coming season, which delivered the minimum that was expected of the club.
There will be many clubs in the world that would have been overjoyed if they had achieved the same success as United, but the Red Devils have loftier aspirations. They have been on their knees since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and it has been a disappointing period for the club. However, they are now coming out on the other side and they will be hoping that they continue to progress under Mourinho. It may be beyond the United boss to deliver the Premier League title, but he will certainly be expected to challenge for it.
Last season, the club’s main problems were in front of goal. They were wasteful and threw away too many points at Old Trafford. During the campaign, they drew an incredible ten times at home. If they have similar problems against lesser opposition, they will be nowhere near the title for a second season in a row. The board and supporters were forgiving before, but they will lose patience if it continues. That said, Mourinho normally fares well in his second season at a club and United will be hoping that trend continues.
How has their summer gone?
Jose Mourinho often demands that he gets a lot of money to spend in the summer and this year has been no different as United have already splashed out around £145 million on new recruits. Romelu Lukaku will be the main focus as the club spent over £75 million to take him from Everton. It is a huge fee, but the Belgian is almost a guarantee of Premier League goals with 43 goals in his last two seasons. United needed to improve their finishing touch and they will be pinning their hopes on the 24-year-old to do that.
Nemanja Matic going to Old Trafford was a signing that shocked many, as Chelsea agreed to sell the midfielder to a rival. There are doubts about his consistency, but there is no question that he is a great player and he will improve the United midfield. His arrival should free Paul Pogba and that will worry the rest of the league. Victor Lindelof has also joined the club and offers another option at centre-back. Mourinho wasn’t convinced by his options last year, but the Swedish international has been signed to fix that issue.
United have had a mixed pre-season, but they will be mostly pleased with how it has gone. An impressive victory over Manchester City in the USA was a highlight, but a European Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid was disappointing. They were second best in every department and the match emphasised the amount of work the club still has to do to get back on top.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
As mentioned earlier, the Manchester United boss has an impressive record in his second season at previous clubs. In fact, he has won the league in the second season at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Chelsea for a second time. It often goes off the rails afterwards, but his second season is usually a good one. Although it will be difficult to win the league with United this season, he has made three excellent additions and they should be a much stronger team as a result.
During pre-season, there have been signs that he could be prepared to move to a formation with three at the back, but his primary formation is likely to be a 4-3-3. They used this last season and although they struggled, there were signs that the balance was right. The signings of Lindelof, Matic and Lukaku strengthen the spine of the team. Mourinho will be hoping he know has a team that is capable of challenging for the league title.
How could the Red Devils line-up this season?
It was expected that Lindelof was brought in to partner Eric Bailly, but Chris Smalling played in the Super Cup and could play a prominent role this season. Matteo Darmian appears to be the first-choice left-back after playing there against Real Madrid. A midfield trio of Matic, Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba should be good enough to challenge for the title. The doubts lie with the attackers, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford and Lukaku have the talent to ensure United score more goals this season.
Who is Manchester United’s best fantasy football option?
There will be a lot of people favouring Lukaku in the game this season based on his previous goal-scoring record in the Premier League. It could get even better at Old Trafford given the improved standard of his team-mates. However, it is Paul Pogba that could be the best pick from Manchester United. The arrival of Matic means that he will have more license to attack and he will want to prove himself after a mixed first season.
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Premier League Verdict
United are a difficult team to predict as they always have one of the more talented squads in the league, but for one reason or another, it doesn’t click on the pitch. Mourinho made them difficult to beat last season, which was why they achieved success in the cups.
However, their attack was poor and that needs to be improved if they are to challenge for the title. Lukaku is a good signing, but do they have enough goals elsewhere? A higher league finish is likely, but they won’t challenge for the title.