So it is job done so far for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. One match and ‘silverware’ has already been secured after a 2-1 win over the Premier League Champions Leicester in the Community Shield at Wembley last Sunday. One of the clubs summer signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the winner, another in Eric Bailly was man of the match, marshalling a rampant Jamie Vardy superbly; the third Henrikh Mkhitaryan made a very brief cameo role but has shown his worth with some impressive performances in pre-season. The fourth, a certain Paul Pogba is now officially a Manchester United player again after a protracted move from Juventus and he can only make the team better.
NO EXPENSE SPARED – YET AGAIN
So a challenge on all fronts will be expected from the 20 time top flight champions. But make no bones about it; a trophy is not the number one target, getting into the Champions League for next season, by whatever means necessary, most definitely is. Jose as the new manager has been backed to the hilt by Chief Executive, Ed Woodward with the mentioned summer signings to add to an already decent squad. People can say that the players United had were not good enough, but I disagree, it is all about how you construct your squad and then use it – look at Leicester, their players on paper were not necessarily as good as some on the books at Old Trafford, but they were used properly to get the maximum benefit by manager, Claudio Ranieri – Mourinho is well aware of this and I would expect him to use his squad to get the best out of them.
NOT REALLY ABOUT THE TROPHIES THIS SEASON
So whether the fans want a trophy or not, this season (by the board anyway) will only be seen as a success if a place in Europe’s premier club cup competition is secured, preferably with automatic qualification to the group phase assured. It is already galling to people at the club that they failed to qualify for the competition this season, but as the Europa League winners qualify for the Champions League that is another avenue to be utilised in case a challenge for the league top four spots falls short again. It needs to be remembered that Mourinho himself is on a bit of a personal recovery mission after the debacle at Chelsea last season for which he was a major part of.
FAILURE NOT AN OPTION
So the phoney war is over and come this Sunday when they kick off their season at the Vitality Stadium against Bournemouth – a place Manchester United lost at last season – the expectation will be on the red half of Manchester from the off. There are no guarantees in the Premier League and a long hard season of pressure is ahead of them. Just because they are Manchester United it does not mean they have any right to be mixing it with Europe’s elite (ask 7 times European Cup winners AC Milan – now a team that struggles to even qualify for the Europa League as we stand), that right has to be earned and if it is not come May the Pogba gamble will have failed and he most likely won’t be the only one wanting out at Old Trafford.
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