Premier League Top Six Preview: Manchester United

Under the guidance of Jose Mourinho, Manchester United fans are yet to have the success that they would’ve hoped for when he took over in the summer of 2016 and were embarrassed by their rivals last year when they lost the league by 19 points to Pep Guardiola’s City. However, a lack of activity in the transfer window and a reluctance to play positive football in this day and age could mean another disappointing season ahead for Manchester United. 

Manchester United made three signings during the summer window with the arrivals of Lee Grant, Diogo Dalot and Fred all not living up to the expectations of Ronaldo, Bale or Dybala that were rumoured before the window opened. Michael Carrick’s retirement and Daley Blind’s return to Ajax are the only major outgoings at Old Trafford so far so in truth, their side hasn’t changed much since last season. Every summer, managers should be looking to address key areas in their team that need to be improved and Mourinho has only somewhat achieved that. He’s still missing a centre-back and perhaps more midfield depth to mount a title challenge.

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Lee Grant’s signing is a matter of allowing Joel Pereira to go out on loan and having three first-team keepers at the club. Diogo Dalot could be a good signing for Manchester United but seems very similar to the Luke Shaw signing. A young full-back hoping to fill the gap left by Patrice Evra that is still yet to be filled at Old Trafford and in truth, unlikely to do so. However, speaking of Luke Shaw, a return to full fitness with the backing of the manager could mean that he finally has the season he’s been hoping for which could make the Dalot signing a waste. Fred will be the main exciting signing for Manchester United but his role is unclear. He will most likely feature in a three-man midfield alongside Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic as a box-to-box central midfielder potentially freeing up Pogba to have more attacking impact like we saw with France at the World Cup this summer.

Mourinho will have high expectations for his players this season and if his record is anything to go by, this could be Mourinho’s final season in charge of the Red Devils. He’ll be hoping to go out on top and winning the Premier League would surely silence his critics. Mourinho will need to be more open to a positive style of football this summer and allow players like Paul Pogba, Fred and Anthony Martial to play with the freedom they strive in. Mourinho’s starting 11 selections have also brought up lots of debate in the past and he’ll have plenty of options up front for a three-man attacking force. Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard both had impressive World Cup campaigns but it will be the pace and skill provided on the wings by Anthony Martial, Alexis Sanchez and Marcus Rashford that will drive United’s attacking force. However, Mourinho’s reluctance to give Martial and Rashford game time or give Pogba the license to have more attacking influence could cost him this season.

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Irish Times

If United are able to get their players playing to their full potential and a squad that is determined to win trophies under the guidance of a more open manager then they are well in for a shot at winning the league or some other silverware this season but the truth is that it’s unlikely Mourinho will change, considering his renowned stubborn attitude. He will be reluctant to play positive football and a shaky defence is probably the reason for that. He doesn’t trust his defenders and his failure to sign a centre-back before the transfer deadline could be the downfall of their season.

  • 2018/19 Predicted Finish: 4th (-2)
  • Premier League Title Chance: 6/10
  • Other Silverware Chance: 8/10
  • Predicted Top Scorer: Romelu Lukaku
  • Predicted Player of the Season: David de Gea
  • Major Strength: Attacking Depth
  • Major Weakness: Defensive Depth

I don’t expect Manchester United to win the Premier League this year but I could definitely see them getting their hands on the FA Cup or League Cup. It wouldn’t necessarily satisfy United fans but a trophy is a trophy and silverware will continue to attract top talent to the club. Let us know what you’re expecting for United this season by tweeting @AllOutFootball_ using #AOF.