Although Louis van Gaal guided them to the FA Cup glory in May this year; majority of the Red Devil fans breathed a heavy sigh of relief in his departure. Two seasons at the Old Trafford and he suffered to create a stable starting XI. However, there was always the big question that; how well can Manchester United deal with Sir Alex Ferguson’s absence? David Moyes and van Gaal were given the chance to carry on his legacy but they failed miserably in 3 years. Most people came to the conclusion that United’s glorious days are over. After two trophy-less campaigns they finally tasted glory when United defeated Crystal Palace 2-1 in the Cup final.
The club’s board members had to appoint someone with Premier League experience and capable of handling big names with ease. Seems like they’ve learned from their earlier mistakes and took the right decision appointing one of the shrewd and tactical genius in the football world. Portuguese Jose Mourinho was announced the manager in the final week of May. The fans were overjoyed to have him as their manager and are still excited about him; given his outstanding track record in the Premier League.
The Portuguese has to toil with the struggling squad the Dutchman left but had made a statement earlier that he will be mixing both youth and experience into his reign. He has already added some star names in this transfer window including Sweden legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who joined from Paris Saint-Germain for a free transfer to which many claim; that Jose brought his old student to Old Trafford as United needed a prolific forward urgently to increase the sharpness in the attacking area . Young centre back Eric Bailly was signed and is considered one of United’s bright future prospects. To strengthen the spine of his new team the Special One signed Borussia Dortmund’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan and is on the verge of completing the Paul Pogba deal over a world record transfer fee.
Manchester United will start their Premier League campaign on Sunday August 14th against AFC Bournemouth. Unlike last season United will desperately look forward to the safety-first approach when attacking. Their counter attack defending were frustrating and the players in the midfield looked helpless. The men upfront couldn’t press forward frequent enough, due to the lack of quality strikers. Now that Zlatan is in the squad, the fans can expect Mourinho to stick to a 4-2-3-1 system. This formation looks wise since it can provide the boss with the much required defensive solidity and the pace with quick counters through the wings which will support the front man to play more freely. The possible United starting XI in their first league game might be something like this:
David De Gea – (GK)
United’s best performer for the last three seasons will be the most important again in this campaign. With the lack of a quality backup and the occasional vulnerability in the defence he has to perform outstandingly yet again.
Luke Shaw – (LB)
United were affected by his absence after the horrendous injury in the PSV game. Several times in the last season it was proved that they need him up and running as quickly as he can.
Chris Smalling – (CB)
Much to the surprise of the critics, he was a regular and reliable performer back at the United’s defence in the last campaign. Although there were times the defence looked shaky he has to as a leader and perform consistently.
Eric Bailly- (CB)
This young centre back may take some time to adjust to the pace of the English game, but he should be able to adapt quickly due to his physical presence. However, the former Villarreal player is sure to face competition from Daley Blind for the centre-back spot.
Antonio Valencia- (RB)
The Ecuadorian will most likely to be the favourite to start as the right back right from the beginning. A couple of impressive displays in the preseason, including three assists against Galatasaray he is going to be key in United’s wing play.
Morgan Schneiderlin – (CM)
The former Southampton man was signed to add stability, consistency and protection in deeper midfield, but has completely failed to deliver. However, Mourinho is a man to bring out the best from his boys and who knows the Frenchman might just get back in form.
Michael Carrick- (CM)
Jose has already shown his faith in this old and experienced midfielder by approving his contract extension. The 35-year-old should be an example in the dressing room providing some much-needed motivation and a good team morale.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – (RWF)
The Red Devil lacked someone to create chances in the final third too often last year and this Armenian winger is capable of breaking the shackles in tight-game situations. His major advantage is that he can play different roles all around the midfield.
Wayne Rooney – (CAM)
Although there’s a tough competition for this spot, the captain will likely face a fight against his colleagues. But then again he was and is an exceptional and gifted player and the Number 10 certainly knows how to handle pressures.
Anthony Martial – (LWF)
The fans are thankful to Louis van Gaal to bring him in. The Frenchman was a gamble in his initial days but his steady development earned him the fans respect and always has the chance to become grow stronger.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – (CF)
Their best signing so far in the summer. Ibrahimovic has the reputation of being the go-to man in all the clubs he played. A man with some excellent track record he can prove to be lethal when provided just an inch.
United under the new era of Jose Mourinho will give their 200% to win their 21st league title. However, the competition looks tougher than ever as the other big boys of the Premier League has brought in the best mangers of the world. It should be also kept in mind that the small teams can turn the tables any day. Then again if United can keep their calm, produce fewer errors and deploy The Special One’s smart tactics, they are firm favourites to finish the season with the silverware.