When Sir Alex Ferguson decided to step down in 2013, Manchester United were expected to go through a long wait for a Premier League title like Liverpool. The right side of Merseyside has not witnessed a league title since the 1990s. This drought has come after a period of extended domination from the club. In similar circumstances, Manchester United have been the team to beat since the Premier League era began in 1992. Yet, there appeared to be a changing of the guards with Chelsea and Manchester City better equipped to win titles.
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal were unable to prevent United’s slide down the league table despite spending enormous sums of money in the transfer market. Just when it seemed that United were about to experience deja vu, the club were greeted by the availability of Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho was seen as the only manager who could revive Manchester United back to the top of the table, and rightly so. The Portuguese has an impeccable record in the Premier league after having won it thrice in his career. Only Sir Alex Ferguson has been able to win more Premier League titles in the last decade. The biggest criticism of the Portuguese is that the youth at a club suffer under his regime. Manchester United have already experienced this syndrome with the likes of Timothy Fosu-Mensah leaving the club on loan alongside several other promising youngsters who have left on a permanent basis.
Yet, the summer transfer window has witnessed Jose Mourinho at his best. He has been able to sign the same kind of players have provided him success in the past. Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic, Victor Lindelof, Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Eric Bailly have been the major signings for the club since the appointment of the 53-year-old. The common theme across these players is that they have plenty of physical presence along with guile.
United’s squad appeared to be in disarray during the time of Louis van Gaal, but the team that has played in the opening weeks of the season is capable of winning against any opposition.
Mourinho can mould the tactics as he wishes; the team is capable of playing beautiful and attractive football when it demands, but they can also get physical at difficult away matches like at Stoke City. While this quality has not especially yielded the Portuguese huge rewards in the Champions League – a return of just two Champions League medals appears pale in comparison with the achievements of Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane, it has proven to be a sure-fire way towards winning the league title.
Manchester United has started the season with back-to-back 4-0 wins. The club will certainly face better quality opposition than West Ham and Swansea, but it has already given a taste of the things to come from the Red Devils this season. Even after Manchester City dropped points at home against Everton, Pep Guardiola’s team remain the favourite in the eyes of bookmakers. The blue half of Manchester has been placed at odds of 6/4 for winning the league title. Manchester United, meanwhile, are priced at 9/4 in the latest Premier League title odds from Betway on August 23rd.
Admittedly, it is extremely tough to predict the destination of the title inside the first few weeks of the season. Manchester United have been able to make comebacks in the league even after Christmas. However, the price is extremely attractive considering that United have the squad capable of dealing with the rigours of domestic and European football at the same time. Furthermore, they have the capability to get results at Old Trafford and on the road.
The opposition are still not settled, as Pep Guardiola tries to find his best starting line-up even after more than 12 months at the club. Chelsea have been hit by plenty of issues on and off the field, but the club’s biggest problem remains a small squad that may not be capable of going the distance. Tottenham also suffer from a similar issue, while Arsenal and Liverpool remain far away from the possibility of putting together a title challenge.
Jose Mourinho’s last title success in the 2014-15 campaign came when he made a brilliant start to the season with Chelsea. History appears to be repeating itself, as the Portuguese has once again set the tone for the 2017-18 campaign with some impressive results in the opening few weeks. It is tough to see beyond Manchester United for the Premier League 2017-18 title.