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Manchester United

Manchester United: 2017/18 Premier League Season Preview

Jake Jackman



Manchester United

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.

Fancy a new challenge this season? Sign up to Draft Fantasy Football and prove your knowledge of the Premier League!

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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.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Manchester United

“Imagine thinking Phil Jones is better”: Newcastle fans react to Jamaal Lascelles omission

Newcastle fans can’t believe Jamaal Lascelles is not going to the World Cup this summer.

Max Cohen



Jamaal Lascelles
Photo: Getty Images

Chelsea narrowly defeated Manchester United in Saturday’s FA Cup Final, thanks to Eden Hazard’s first-half penalty.

United centre-half Phil Jones conceded the spot-kick, felling the Belgian in the box and drawing the ire of Twitter in the process.

Newcastle United supporters were baffled at Jones’ poor cup final performance and criticised England manager Gareth Southgate for selecting the 26-year-old defender ahead of Jamaal Lascelles in the World Cup squad.

Against Chelsea, Jones made headlines for his high-profile mistake 20 minutes into the match.

The defender was caught flat-footed just inside his own half when Cesc Fabregas played a lofted ball in the direction of Eden Hazard.

The Belgian’s first touch was excellent and left Jones for dead, putting the Englishman on the wrong side of the ball.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Hazard then cut back across Jones, before the defender lunged into an ill-timed challenge that got nowhere near the ball.

In a cup final of such importance, mistakes such as Jones’ can prove immensely costly. And as United lost the match by the solitary goal, the centre-back’s error was devastating.

And the Manchester United defender’s poor showing incensed English supporters, who were furious at his inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man team.

In particular, Newcastle United fans felt aggrieved that Jones was selected in front of their captain Jamaal Lascelles.

Lascelles has been superb all season for the Magpies, marshaling the Newcastle defence while leading the club to an impressive tenth-placed finish.

Unlike Jones, who has been an inconsistent feature in United’s side, Lascelles featured in 33 Premier League matches this season – ten more than the United defender.

The Newcastle United faithful expressed their discontent at the England manager’s defensive team selections, arguing Lascelles would have proved a far more effective option in Russia.

And as one intrepid Twitter user noted, when Newcastle United played host to Chelsea just one week ago, Lascelles kept Hazard in check and held the Blues scoreless. Jones, on the other hand, capitulated in the face of the Belgian’s skills.

England face Belgium on 28 June in their final group stage match; Newcastle and Three Lions fans alike will be praying Phil Jones does not feature.

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Manchester United

Luke Shaw must seek Mauricio Pochettino reunion to revive floundering career

Max Cohen



Luke Shaw
Photo: Getty Images

The latest disappointment in a dreadful season for Luke Shaw came on Wednesday, when the Manchester United defender was left out of England’s World Cup squad.

Limited to just 11 league appearances this season, amid a falling-out with Jose Mourinho, the full-back must seek a move to Tottenham Hotspur this summer and reunite with ex-Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino.

It is easy to forget that Shaw is just 22 years of age, as the left back burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old back in 2012.

Once considered one of the world’s finest young defenders, Shaw played in the 2014 World Cup for England and was signed by Manchester United for £30 million – the world record fee for a teenager at the time.

However, the Englishman’s time at Old Trafford has been a troubled one. Filled with injuries and managerial bust-ups, Shaw appears a shadow of his former self and is desperately short of confidence and playing time.

(Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/Getty Images)

A transfer to White Hart Lane to link up with old boss Mauricio Pochettino would be the ideal switch for the left back.

Shaw still has time on his side to revive his career, as at only 22 years old, he has many playing years in front of him.

The Argentinian would be the perfect manager to coax the best out of the fullback, due to Pochettino’s impressive knack for getting the best out of promising youngsters.

The two spent a year-and-a-half together at St. Mary’s and Shaw has since spoken glowingly about his respect and adoration for Pochettino in Guillem Balague’s book Brave New World: Inside Pochettino’s Spurs:

“I do hope that I can play for him again one day. And I think he really wants me to play under him again.”

In order to save his floundering career, Shaw must leave Old Trafford and make the switch to Spurs to rekindle his relationship with Mauricio Pochettino.

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English Premier League

Four Premier League ‘flops’ that have gone on to excel in Europe

There are some exceptional former Premier League disappointments now excelling abroad.

Martyn Cooke



Photo: Getty Images

Mohammed Salah has emerged as one of the leading performers in world football this season after having an incredible debut season with Liverpool.

The 25-year-old has scored a combined total of 44 goals for club and country this campaign and was subsequently voted as both the PFA Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year.

However, it was only two years ago that Salah was being branded as a flop following a short, unsuccessful stint with Chelsea.

The Egyptian made only a handful of appearances at Stamford Bridge and had to rebuild his reputation in Italy with Fiorentina and Roma prior to emerging as one of the best players in the world this campaign.

Here, The Boot Room looks at four other Premier League flops that have rebuilt their careers in European football.

Memphis Depay

(Photo by Jeff Pachoud/Getty Images)

There was considerable excitement when Manchester United signed Dutch prodigy Memphis Depay for £31 million in the summer of 2015.

The 21-year-old had been the Eredivisie’s leading goal scorer in the previous campaign with his pace, technical ability and unpredictability helping PSV Eindhoven to a first Dutch title in almost a decade.

However, Depay failed to find his feet in England and was unable to secure regular first-team football.

His inconsistent form on the pitch was further emphasized by his reputation for being something of a flashy, egotistical playboy off it.

He was subsequently sold to Lyon for an initial fee of £16 million in January 2017 having failed to impress Louis van Gaal or Jose Mourinho that he was worthy of a starting role.

The Dutchman has subsequently excelled in France and has exploits have helped Lyon to qualify for the Champions League next season.

He has scored 19 times in all competitions this campaign and is one of only a handful of players who have reached double figures for both goals scored and assists this campaign.

Furthermore, now 24 years of age, Depay has also begun to mature and lose his former bad-boy image.

Andrej Kramaric

(Photo by Daniel Roland/Getty Images)

When Leicester City broke their transfer record in January 2014 to purchase Andrej Kramaric for £9 million, it was widely considered to be an excellent piece of business.

The forward had been prolific in Croatian football where he was averaging over a goal a game with Rijeka and had already secured a regular place in the international team.

All of the signs indicated that The Foxes had bought a young, prolific goal scorer.

Ultimately, Kramaric failed to replicate his previous form and had a diminutive impact at the King Power Stadium.

He started just six games for Leicester before being loaned out to Bundesliga side Hoffenheim in January 2016, mid-way through Claudio Ranieri’s title-winning season, and he made the move permanent when the campaign concluded.

Now, 26 years of age, the Croatian has rediscovered his goal scoring touch in Germany netting 30 goals across all competitions over the previous two years.

He hit a hat-trick against Hannover at the end of April to fire Hoffenheim towards Champions League qualification and was hailed as a ‘top striker’ by his team-mate Havard Nordtveit.


(Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

In the summer of 2013, Tottenham Hotspur broke their record transfer by purchasing midfielder Paulinho for a fee believed to be around £17 million.

Spurs had just sold Gareth Bale to Real Madrid and the Brazilian was one of a number of high profile and expensive signings that the club made as they reinvested the money.

Paulinho made a solid, if not spectacular, start to life at White Hart Lane and was a regular feature in his first season, making 30 appearances in the Premier League.

However, in the summer of 2013, Mauricio Pochettino replaced Tim Sherwood as manager and the midfielder simply never featured in the Argentinian’s plans.

He made just three starts and was subsequently sold to Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande for £10 million.

It was initially thought that the Brazilian’s top flight career in Europe was over until Barcelona made the surprise move to sign him in the summer of 2017.

Paulinho has emerged as a key feature at the Nou Camp this season, making almost 50 appearances across all competitions, to help the club secure a domestic league and cup double, leaving Tottenham supporters wondering if they sold the midfielder too soon.

Iago Aspas

(Photo credit should read PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)

Liverpool signed diminutive Spanish forward Iago Aspas in the summer of 2013 for a £7 million as Brendan Rodgers continued to remould the playing squad at Anfield.

The striker’s arrival was something of a surprise considering he was uncapped at international level and was not widely perceived as being a prolific goal scorer.

The Spaniard struggled to find his feet in the Premier League and made only a handful of appearances before returning to La Liga with Sevilla at the end of the campaign.

He scored only once, a solitary strike in the FA Cup against Oldham Athletic, and his most noticeable contribution was producing one of the worst corner kicks of all time against Chelsea.

However, Aspas is now flourishing with hometown club Celta Vigo and is regarding as one of the most prolific strikers in La Liga.

He has scored 21 goals across all competitions this season in 35 appearances and is the leading Spanish goalscorer across all of Europe’s top flight leagues.

He has a genuine chance of leading Spain’s forward line this summer at the World Cup.

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