By Harry Ogilvie
- Manchester United start the season with a perfect record
- three wins, ten goals scored and none conceded
As we endure the dreaded International break. I will take a look back on United’s opening three fixtures and analyse their start to the 2017/18 Premier League season.
The side appear rejuvenated compared to last season and fans seem to sense something special happening at Old Trafford.
The signings of Lindelof, Lukaku and Matic. Manchester United seem to have recaptured what was lost when Sir Alex Ferguson left.
Jose Mourinho’s men have had the perfect start to the season. His side has played three, won three, scored ten and kept three clean sheets.
Pace Is Key!
They finally seem to have found the pace, power and penetration United’s attacks used to be renowned.
The speed and ability in the side is quite simply remarkable. Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and even Jesse Lingard can all be superb assets to the side. Especially for counter attacks.
Mourinho is also blessed with some brilliant creativity to compliment our forward players with Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Nemanja Matic.
All the players mentioned can thread a pass through the eye of a needle and will be crucial to Manchester United’s attacks and have been so far.
The two additions that have been given their chance in the league so far have done nothing but impress.
Matic and Lukaku have been fantastic. Lukaku exploded on to the scene scoring two on his debut against West Ham and then another against Swansea. Putting him top of the goalscoring charts.
Matic Proving An Important Addition Already
Matic is the other signing who’s made a massive impact since signing for the club. Many reds were underwhelmed when Matic was announced. With United were previously linked with the likes of Fabinho and Eric Dier.
However, all fears and doubts were vanished after his performance against Real Madrid. Where he kept possession and moved the ball with ease and composure.
The Serbian has also proved to be a vital part of United’s perfect league start. He has been the player that has allowed Pogba to roam forward and offer his creativity and goal scoring ability when United are attacking.
This has already been made evident. As the Frenchman has bagged two goals and one assist in the three games we have played.
Last season, Paul Pogba was required to sit back a lot more and was unable to take up his free role, where he can roam forward as he pleases as United did not have a Matic-esque player (when Carrick was not playing).
Mkhitaryan Proving His Worth To Mourinho
Mkhitaryan is another player who has had an excellent start to the season, bagging 5 assists in 3 games. The Armenian has came to life in the final third with his vision and weight of pass.
He is one player who looks fresh and more threatening than ever. This is a refreshing sight for all United fans considering his lack of goal contributions in the league last season.
Manchester United have a number of serious attacking assets and now are looking like a real threat.
After four years of failed title challenges and dropping as low as 7th in the league, Mourinho finally has a United side looking capable of winning the league.
Jones And Bailly Looking Solid In Defence
In addition to striking the right balance in the attacking side of the team, it also appears the gaffer has found the perfect centre back partnership.
In the first three games, we have started with Eric Bailly and Phil Jones at centre back and they have more than repaid Jose’s faith in them.
The pairing have had a flawless start to the season, getting a clean sheet in every game so far.
The only question marks that may come up with regards to the centre back duo is injuries.
Phil Jones is known for picking up long term injuries especially when he hits a bit of form. Bailly is another who was slightly troubled by injuries last year. The Ivorian hobbled off in the 4-0 drubbing at Stamford Bridge and was out for six weeks.
However, that being said, if these two can remain fit Manchester United will have a terrific centre back partnership with the likes of Victor Lindelof, Axel Tuanzebe, Chris Smalling and even Marcos Rojo (when he returns from injury) available to come into the side if injury, suspension or loss of form does occur.
Strength Of Squad Will Be Needed
The depth in this squad is simply extraordinary. The centre back position is one with a clear amount of depth (shown in the above paragraph).
Centre midfield is another position where there are options aplenty with the likes of Pogba, Matic, Herrera, A. Pereira, Fellaini and of course, Michael Carrick.
There is also a vast array of attacking options especially after the addition of Romelu Lukaku and the extension of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract.
Manchester United have options in almost every position, which will be very important in an inevitably long season.
Left-Back May Be A Worry
Despite all the positives of the current United squad, there is still a clink in United’s armour.
This clink being the full back position. There may be a fair few options in each full back position but there are questions over the quality of these options considering how important these positions are in the modern game.
Antonio Valencia is a solid, reliable option at right back but in the game against Leicester, it was clear his crossing needs major work.
The Ecuadorian is perfectly capable at almost every other part of his game and if his crossing can improve, he could be a real threat. Darmian and Ashley Young are the other two options at right back.
As for the left back position, this is definitely United’s weakest area.
Daley Blind has been the player that has started there so far this season.
But he appears to lack the athleticism and crossing to be really effective at full back.The options for left back consists of Luke Shaw, Rojo (when fit), Demetri Mitchell and both Darmian & Young are also capable of playing left back.
Luke Shaw is an intriguing case. The player is only 22 years old and is clearly a talented full back but seems to be riddled by injuries.
Shaw appears to have had fitness problems for years, even when he was back at Southampton. But if he can get fit and firing, he would be a massive coup for United considering the lack of pace and attacking ability Blind possesses.
Title Challenge Is On But It’s Only A Start
Ultimately, it is clear Manchester United are very much in contention for the Premier League title after an excellent start.
There is still 35 games to be played but United have started as they mean to go on, scoring goals galore, keeping clean sheets and back to playing the frightening attacking football that they were once known for.
The fear factor is back at Old Trafford. And with Mourinho at the helm, United fans believe anything is possible.