With the transfer window closed and the opening weekend already passed, there were glimpses of teams who might mount a serious title challenge, and the teams who might flatter to deceive. Liverpool absolutely smashed West Ham 4-0 to give them the perfect start – one that was expected following their spending in the summer.
Chelsea beat Huddersfield 3-0 to get the Maurizio Sarri era off to the perfect start. Manchester City defeated a newly-managed Arsenal 2-0 to begin their title defence.
Finally, Manchester United hung onto a 2-1 victory over Leicester City on Friday night to start their season on a high, after the lows which were omnipresent during the pre-season and the transfer window. It wasn’t the most convincing performance but it was just enough to see them win the 1st match of the season.
Furthermore, many of the first team players didn’t contribute as much. Lingard was out of the squad, Lukaku played for 15 minutes and Matic was injured. So, more will be expected off Mourinho’s men once all of them return. But what should United do to mount a serious title challenge?
- Maintaining consistency amongst the backline:
Mourinho, in his managerial career, has never been a fan of repeatedly rotating his defense. Be it Carvalho and Terry at Chelsea(1st term), Sergio Ramos and Pepe at Madrid, Terry and Cahill at Chelsea (2nd term) or Samuel and Lucio at Inter, he has rarely changed the center-back partnership.At United, the amount of combinations he has had is shocking. Mourinho used 11 different center-back combinations in the 2017-18 season. As a result, David De Gea had to save United time and time again. So, the first thing Mourinho should do is maintain consistency amongst his center-backs throughout the season.
- Free Up Pogba:“Pogba was a monster”, said Mourinho after the win over Leicester City as he put on a Man of the Match display despite training for only 4 days. That’s exactly what Mourinho has to do – give Pogba the freedom to show his class and not indulge him into defensive work. In the 2017-18 campaign, Pogba was far from impressive in this side.
Despite showing glimpses of what he can be, he wasn’t consistent enough. Moreover, a reported feud with Mourinho derailed his performances even further. So, for Manchester United to succeed, Pogba should be given the free role he wants. It might just help produce a more attacking output from United this season.
- Play Sanchez and Martial in the same team:After the highly anticipated arrival of Alexis Sanchez in January, there were signs of more positive things to come from the Chilean. But this switch led to the sacrifice of Anthony Martial from the starting line up.
Prior to the move, Martial was in great form, scoring in consecutive matches and was slowly making that left wing spot his own. But his spot was taken away by Sanchez, who couldn’t make an impact either in his opening 6 months. Now into the new season, Martial should be given his role back as he is one of the most exciting young wingers in the world.
A new front three of Martial, Lukaku and Sanchez sounds like an exciting prospect for the Old Trafford faithful. Playing a 29-year-old who hasn’t been at his best for a 23-year-old who was averaging 0.7 goals+assists/game in his limited minutes might sound stupid at some point.
Similar to Pogba, Mourinho should not expect defensive duty from Martial as this is not his style. He should be left to do what he does best.
So, these should be the changes that Mourinho should bring to mount a serious title challenge this season. Otherwise, the end might be near for him.