A fresh season under a fresh manager. Manchester United have been there a couple of times in the past, what with David Moyes and Louis van Gaal coming in, just in a span of three seasons. However, we've all seen what transpired next. Just a short glimpse of glory and thereafter, an irresistible urge to call Sir Alex Ferguson back from his retirement and lend his magic touch once again to the Red Devils team.
The English Premier League title was last won in the summer of 2013 and thereafter, things drastically started changing. Ferguson's departure also made the way out for club legend Paul Scholes as well as a major legacy. Ryan Giggs retired the following season after Moyes took the helm and veteran defenders Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand also made an exit.
Of course, the likes of Juan Mata and Angel di Maria as well as Anthony Martial came thereafter but nothing really got Manchester United back to that form, which is just about synonymous with Manchester United â€” the 20-time EPL winners and one of the greatest football association clubs in the world.
Enter the champion manager Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese football coach's CV is one of the best in the world, with Premier League crown wins with Chelsea, La Liga trophies with Real Madrid, the Portuguese top flight titles with FC Porto, the Serie A crowns with Inter Milan and a handful of UEFA Champions League titles. Mourinho's appointment as the Red Devils manager in May this year was greeted with mixed reactions despite the 53-year-old possessing such a great resume.
Cynics, however, still ask the question: What if Mourinho, despite being one of the best in the business, still fails to inspire United to their 21st title? After what happened to the Portuguese at Chelsea last season (sacked midway in the season due to poor performances), there has been a cause of worry, and genuinely so.
Also, there is another question: Would Mourinho be able to deliver a long-term target rather than a short-term goal? However, the situation itself is contradictory as both Moyes and Van Gaal were asked to leave as they could not deliver short-term targets. Of course, with stability, a window for preparing a lethal team with a long-term target, does open up always.
Manchester United preseason 2016-17
Without looking back much into what had and what could have happened, let us look at what really is in store for the Old Trafford giants this season. United had an average preseason this time around as they neither showcased their intent nor looked too shaky in portions. Of course, the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard, who were criticised a bit last season for not giving their best shot, performed well in the warm-up matches ahead of the season.
|Date||Team A||Team B||Result||Scorers|
|July 16||Manchester United||Wigan Athletic||2-0 win||Will Keane, Andreas Pereira|
|July 22||Manchester United||Borussia Dortmund||1-4 loss||Henrikh Mkhitaryan|
|July 25||Manchester United||Manchester City||Cancelled|
|July 30||Manchester United||Galatasaray||5-2 win||Wayne Rooney (brace), Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata|
|Aug 3||Manchester United||Everton||0-0|
|Aug 7 (Community Shield)||Manchester United||Leicester City||2-1||Jesse Lingard, Zlatan Ibrahimovic|
Eric Bailly â€” The young Ivory Coast international defender was snapped from Villarreal for around Â£30 million. Bailly played full 90 minutes in the heart of defence for Manchester United in the Community Shield and looked quite impressive. However, the question remains if he can really adapt to the physicality of the Premier League once the main season gets under way.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan â€” A very well-calculated and technical signing by Mourinho, the 27-year-old is expected to give that much-needed attacking boost to the side's midfield. Mkhitaryan got off the mark in terms of goalscoring straightaway as he scored against his former club in the preseason. Judging by his performances so far, the Armenian can play a real vital part for the Red Devils this season.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic â€” Manchester United needed to make this signing to assert once again that they are down, but not out, in terms of attracting the best players of the world. The Sweden superstar, who recently announced his international retirement, got off the mark instantly after a superb volley in his debut game for the Red Devils against Galatasaray. And as things are looking, keep an eye on the former PSG hotshot.
Paul Pogba â€” One of the best midfielders in the world today, the Paul Pogba to Manchester United saga dominated headlines in the summer transfer window. Now that the signing is confirmed, the term 'Pogback' hogged the headlines yet again. A return worth waiting for and a plethora of expectations awaited from the Frenchman, the lanky midfielder's performance could remain vital as Manchester United vie for their 21st Premier League title.
Keeping every aspect into view and the recent preseason performances, a top three finish in the table can more or less be confirmed. However, what about Premier League winners? That remains to be seen.