- Published: Monday, 14 August 2017 12:42
5 Reasons to smile, Bring on the new season!!
Only 1 game week in, THE PREMIER LEAGUE IS BACK! What a way for it all to begin; Arsenal getting us started with a pulsating 4-3 win over Leicester City, Liverpool showing their defensive vulnerabilities are as present as ever conceding late to a passionate Watford performance, a 9-man Chelsea almost fighting back against a determined Burnley display at the Bridge and a Huddersfield unit, ripping Crystal Palace to shreds at Selhurst Park. It is safe to say the Premier League is as predictably unpredictable as ever, so when a new-look West Ham made the trip to Old Trafford, us United fans had absolutely no idea what to expect, we were not disappointed!
What do you say after a performance like that one? Just one game in and United possibly produced one of their best displays since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. It is a bold statement, but difficult to argue. It is very dangerous to pass judgement or make audacious claims after just a single game, but what can be said for certain is the players look hungry, the manager looks ready and the crowd has warmed their voices, ready for what United are quietly confident of being a serious title push in the 2017/2018 premier league season, just where Manchester United belong! So what, if anything can United fans around the globe take out of the first game of the marathon season ahead?
- Matic may have just made United genuine title contenders
This is a fairly obvious one, but almost impossible to ignore. It can be argued that we are only 1 game into the season and, as many will point out, you can’t win the league until May. That being said, Matic, produced a man of the match display. He seemed to almost seamlessly fit into his role in this United squad. His first contribution was an express lump up to Romelu Lukaku, which although direct, showed his early intent. It only got better from there; his passing was crisp, his ability to ghost into space in the midfield should be applauded and his knack of bringing other players into the game cannot be understated. It has been spoken about at length prior to this game, but the evidence is there that the signing of Matic may have completed the Manchester United jigsaw puzzle and hopefully allow other players, in particular Pogba, to express themselves on the field with more freedom. Begs the question… What were Chelsea thinking? The best midfielders go about their work sometimes unnoticed and Matic has had an instant impact on this team, we can only expect and hope that he will improve with time. A Mourinho team is not ‘possession based’ and thus has no problem being without the ball for long periods of time, the transition between defence and attack therefore becomes imperative. Carrick no doubt has the ability to fill that role in the absence of Matic, however, in Nemanja, United may have finally found what fans have been crying out for since the retirement of Paul Scholes.
- Mourinho sticking to a 4-2-3-1 formation
Before the opening game, there was talk of Mourinho shifting to a 3 at the back system after Conte’s Chelsea exploited it to such devastating effect last season.
Mourinho, being as pragmatic as ever, seems to have stuck to his guns. It is way too early to insist that this will be Uniteds’ preferred formation, however, even Mourinho, the tactician, will find it difficult to tinker much if the performances continue in this fashion. The system is Mourinho-like in every way; 2 monsters in the midfield providing cover and stability for the defensive unit, a beast up top, all supported by impressive amounts of pace, ready to pounce on the counter attack in a heartbeat. Marcus Rashford looks as comfortable as ever on the left, giving Zabaleta an absolute nightmare afternoon. His weighted pass for Lukaku’s opener was inch perfect and he surely deserved a goal for his considerable efforts in the game but goals will come for the Mancunian, no doubt.
The formation seems to also afford Mata the freedom to play his natural game, with pace and width running off of him on either side tucked into his preferred number 10 role.
- Lukaku is as lethal as advertised, goals are almost guaranteed Two competitive games in, 3 goals down and Lukaku has already endeared himself to the Old Trafford faithful. Lukaku may not have the work rate of a Morata or possess the passing and link-up prowess of an Aguero, but his worth is simple and effective; he is big, he is imposing and if he gets a sniff, he scores. That is what he has been recruited for and although there will be games where United fans are pulling their hair out at his inconsistencies, he will score goals. Mourinho loves a big, commanding striker and with the possibility of Zlatan “the lion” Ibrahimovic returning in January, United most definitely have goals in them. A fit, firing Lukaku could be pivotal in Uniteds’ quest to be at the pinnacle of English football.
- The team needs to keep contributing goals as a unit
It was comforting, towards the end of the game to see both Pogba and Martial getting on the scoresheet. One big question mark of Uniteds’ previous campaign was their inability to turn a dominant display into 3 points. At times the team was overly reliant on Zlatan’s goal tally and fans were desperate for midfielders and wingers alike to step up in crucial moments. Pogba, in particular would have been disappointed with his conversion rate. Finishing is something that can be improved upon with effort and we can only hope that the squad as a whole has been hard at work in the training ground to rectify that. Martial, given only 10 minutes, gave Mourinho an early selection headache and for the first time for at least the past 5 seasons, this United squad look like there are goals in them across the park.
- Mkhitaryan deserves immense credit for his performance Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the name may be difficult to spell, but his talents are clear to see. After arriving from the Bundesliga as their player of the year in 2016, he arrived carrying a lot of expectation from the United faithful. In the 2016/2017 season, he will be remembered for how he defied the laws of physics to score a memorable scorpion kick against Sunderland, however his performances were inconsistent at times. Fans and players have high hopes for MKH this season and on Sunday, he showed exactly what he is capable of. He seems to glide with ball at feet, and somehow manages to be faster with the ball than without it. His delivery for Lukaku’s second was inch perfect, as was his assist to set up Martial for the 3rd. One season down, it is now time for the Armenian magician to step up to the plate.
So one game in and United fans are already smiling from ear to ear. It is a funny old game football though and there is a long way to go, many ups and downs to be had, many tears, hopefully many more cheers. To quote John Champion in the build up to the match “Manchester United; the club whose history bewitches all, whose narrative grips planet football and whose legend can never stand still.”
One game down, a long season still to go, but as is the duty of a United fan, we believe! It is after all, what this great club expects and demands.