What change has just a summer activity brought about to one of the biggest clubs in the world, Manchester United? Louis Van Gaal’s departure after the FA Cup final saw the appointment of the renowned Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho within that week itself.
Jose’s transfer planning and heavy spending have brought three stars to the club and one Ivorian youngster. Zlatan Ibrahimović from Paris St. Germain, Henrikh Mkhitaryan the Bundesliga’s player of the year from Dortmund, Paul Labile Pogba from Juventus and Eric Bailly from Villarreal. His primary aim was to strengthen the squad by bringing in specialists and improving four particular positions and he’s stuck to his words and got the job done.
A seriously large season looms ahead of Jose, in the shadows of that gloom at Chelsea but just a quick-fire start would soon put that behind. Manchester United’s struggle has been a lot real since Sir Alex Ferguson left but now, the confidence a manager instils is really back amongst the loyal fans and probably in the players themselves. Jose brings with him a huge reputation of conquering trophies in whichever club he’s managed and that will encourage United fans to place their beliefs on him. A bad pre-season in China couldn’t yield satisfying results but lots of positives can be taken from the games of Galatasaray and Leicester.
With the Premier League season just around the corner, United travel to the south coast of England to take on Eddie Howe’s cherries. I look at three burning questions Manchester United fans will ask ahead of the season opener.
1) Will Man United’s attack really deliver?
Criticisms were always over the attack of Manchester United in Louis Van Gaal’s reign because everyone can agree that defence looked the best the whole season. Jose Mourinho though has strengthened the attacking sector immensely with the signature of three superstars who can bring in enough quality to the sector. Zlatan Ibrahimović, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba are top players. The only question shall be is whether they can gel together soon.
With the likes of Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and youngsters like Jesse Lingard with Memphis Depay forming up ranks and combined with the attacking forays of Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw, Man United’s attack seems to be shaping up nicely on paper but time and again the question is same as it was last season. Will Man United’s attack really deliver?
2) Will Eric Bailly be able to handle the rigours of the league?
Strengthening four positions involved strengthening of the centre-back position as well and to do that, Jose immediately brought in one of the world’s most promising centre backs from Villarreal, which is Eric Bailly. The Premier League as we all know is a very competitive league to play in and with a wide range of quality attackers coming at you, the defence has to be firm. Manchester United’s defence was firm the previous season but under Jose, I guess it’s a new start.
Chris Smalling is most likely to partner Eric Bailly in defence. One is an experienced lad while the other is just adapting to the nature of football on the English soil. If Manchester United have to have a promising season ahead, every sector has to do its job and in the defence, eyes will, of course, go over to Eric Bailly. Will Bailly handle the rigours of the league? Man United’s whole season depends on these two factors mentioned above.
3) Will youth academy players get enough playing time under Jose Mourinho?
This has always been the question, hasn’t it? Time and again this question has surfaced ahead. Players like Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Timothy Fosu Mensah have emerged splendidly under Van Gaal but critics have pointed at several times that Jose never encourages youth. The manager on the other hand though openly waved his disagreement and made a statement that in his career as a manager, he’s promoted 49 youth players.
While this puts a shining light, none can guarantee anything. What can be taken as a positive will be Jesse Lingard’s inclusion in the recent Community Shield victory. Jose has also claimed that it’s going to be a massive season with Europa League, FA cup all involved and he’ll rotate the squad gladly so the main question will indeed be, will the youth academy players get enough playing time?