Posted on August 30th, 2017
FOUR years have passed since Manchester United’s last Premier League title victory. Their 2012/13 success was the final chapter of the glorious Sir Alex Ferguson era that lasted 27 years.
Since the curtain was brought down on Fergie’s reign, United have endured a torrid time in the Premier League with only one top four finish since his retirement under three different managers, despite spending more than £500m on players in that time.
Their positions of 7th, 4th, 5th and 6th in the last four years are way short of the expectations of the Old Trafford faithful, especially given the huge outlay on players in the obscene transfer market.
However, the early signs this season are that United are finally ready to put together a proper challenge for the Premier League title, and end their longest run without English footballs most prestigious prize since the Premier League era began in 1992/93. The bookies appear to think they have a chance with some offering odds as low as 2/1, but if you fancy a flutter, first go and check the reviews of football betting sites to get the best value on your tip for the Premier League Champions 2017/18.
Maximum points from their first three matches, ten goals scored and none conceded is the perfect start to Jose Mourinho’s second term at Old Trafford as they sit top of the League before the first international break of the season. Of course, it is very early into the new campaign and cynics will point out that the two 4-0 wins they had were against potential relegation candidates in Swansea and West Ham, the former who’ve plummeted from the early promise shown in Slaven Bilic’s first season in charge.
Saturday’s 2-0 victory over 2016 Champions Leicester concluded the perfect start for United and will give them confidence going into a tricky September schedule.
An away trip to Stoke and a home match with big-spending Everton comes either side of a Champions League match with Basel. They then face another tough away examination at Southampton before the visit of a Crystal Palace side struggling under new manager Frank de Boer. Should they come through these four games with at least ten points then it will signal a state of intent from United ahead of tougher tests ahead in Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City and defending champions Chelsea.
Looking at United under Mourinho, it was an unconvincing League season that was almost written off as they laboured to a disappointing sixth position. However, the club still ended up with two trophies in the League Cup and Europa League, the latter giving them the pathway back to the Champions League having missed out on the top four.
To his credit, Mourinho has been slowly rebuilding the mess left by his predecessors David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal, the latter in particular wasted a huge transfer kitty and had the team being horrible to watch and losing their identity, and they look a more solid team again.
The signings of Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic have added much needed quality in key areas. Lukaku should be the 25-30 goal per season the club craves with his strength and finishing being key to where United end up in the table, whereas Matic fills that holding position to compliment last years most expensive footballer in the world Paul Pogba.
The guile of Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, along with the pace of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, adds the creative element to the team to provide chances for Lukaku and themselves.
Defensively, the team look more solid, a trait of most Jose Mourinho teams, with Eric Bailly now settled alongside Phil Jones and are backed up by one of the world’s best goalkeepers in David de Gea.
United also have more options to change the game, as proven on Saturday when Rashford and Fellaini came onto score the two goals that secured all three points, and the re-signing of Ibrahimovic will add good depth that could prove the difference at the end of the season.
For the first time in four years, there is more of a belief amongst the Manchester United fans that their side can deliver a first title since Fergie moved into retirement. Time will tell if they are up to the challenge with their main contenders still to come but there are many who believe that United can be Premier League Champions once again.