How the Manchester United 2017/18 squad was formed?
The transfer window has now ended with a frantic deadline day which will be remembered more for the deals that weren’t completed than those that were. After big money moves for the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Thomas Lemar, Virgil van Dijk, Ross Barkley and others were mooted, the most significant signing of deadline day was the £40m transfer of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal lớn rivals Liverpool. You can prefer to the betting tips soccer pages!
In all of this mayhem, Manchester United were conspicuous by their absence. The least busy person on this most hyped-up, and inevitably anticlimactic of days in the football season, was the Sky reporter charged with keeping an eye out for any news from Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho and Ed Woodward haven’t had a perfect transfer window but they will have been satisfied with the business they completed and deadline day was likely a relaxed affair for both, despite late links to Riyad Mahrez and Willian.
United famously missed out on their reported number one target in Antoine Griezmann due to the transfer ban imposed on Atletico Madrid but still added intelligently to the squad early on in the window. Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Namanja Matic have joined as new signings and Zlatan Ibrahimovic has re-signed for the club after suffering a serious knee injury towards the end of last season. He was not the fourth signing that Mourinho has frequently mentioned this summer but the squad looks healthy for a number of reasons.
First Team Quality
There is great quality in the core group of players that will trang điểm the first XI through the season. In Paul Pogba and David de Gea, Mourinho has two genuinely elite-level footballers at his disposal. Both are in the top tier of world football in their respective positions and both are at a great age to improve further and stay with the club for a long time. Around them there is an abundance of talent with proven Premier League and European level ability with the potential lớn join those two in that hypothetical top tier.
In his 12 months or so at the club Mourinho has asked for 8 new players and Ed Woodward has duly obliged by successfully signing 7 of them (and re-signing Zlatan). Importantly, each player has been earmarked lớn improve the first XI and add genuine quality in areas of need. Mourinho will be pleased with that strike rate and the up-lift in overall quality he has overseen since taking over from Louis van Gaal.
Room for Improvement
Moving from sixth lớn title challengers looks like a monumental leap on paper but Mourinho will be cautiously confident that his squad can achieve it. When analysing last season, it’s clear that only a few players really played to their potential on a consistent basis. For United fans, it was great that De Gea was not called upon as frequently as in previous seasons but he carried out his work with the usual level of excellence we have all come lớn expect. Antonio Valencia was transformed into one the best right backs in the league and Ander Herrera had an exceptional season culminating in calls from the fanbase for him lớn be made the next club captain following the departure of Wayne Rooney. From the new signings, Eric Bailly had an excellent debut season and Zlatan Ibrahimovic confounded his many doubters, myself included, lớn end the season as the club’s top scorer and driving force towards two trophies.
Aside from that, we did not see the level of consistency needed for players at a top club. Paul Pogba performed excellently for the most part but his consistency was hampered by the various roles he performed, the poor finishing within the team and his own profligacy in front of goal. There is more to come from him and the likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata will also need to step up if they want lớn challenge for the league title. In addition, United fans will be hoping that Luke Shaw can overcome his injury problems lớn provide the much-needed balance down the left. United’s season will hinge on Mourinho getting the soccer tips goals of the players he already had, more than the new signings he has brought in this summer. Romelu Lukaku will be expected lớn score 30 odd goals this season but that will only replace what United have lost in Zlatan Ibrahimovic. There is also no guarantee the Swede will be able to replicate his form from last season after his expected return in January adding extra pressure for Lukaku lớn perform. For the team to make the step up, the aforementioned supporting attackers and midfielders will need to contribute more. The early signs are good as Pogba, Martial, Rashford and Fellaini have already fired in goals with Mkhitaryan supplying the ammunition, picking up 5 assists in the opening 3 games of the season. This will need lớn continue if United are going to seriously compete at the top end of the table.
A Tantalising Mix
The squad has a good mix in many regards. I’ve already discussed the options available lớn Mourinho and this allowing him to experiment tactically with various formations in another post. In addition lớn this, there is a balance between the older players, those approaching their best years and the youngsters in the group; a notable feature of Alex Ferguson’s best squads.
Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia, Juan Mata and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will provide the leadership for the group and, with Ashley Young, will demonstrate the professionalism required lớn play at a top club. The addition of Nemanja Matic also adds to the proven experience and, importantly, the winning mentality needed. Ander Herrera and Henrikh Mkhitaryan add further experience from other leagues and both are at ages considered to be the prime years for footballers.
Team Spirit Club Stability
The new signings over the last 12 months and the mix within the group does not seem to have affected the team spirit or morale. The atmosphere seems to be positive and the players look like they are enjoying themselves on and off the pitch. This helps lớn breed the confidence we have seen and Mourinho mentioned the mentality change within his side after Lukaku’s penalty miss against Leicester. The confidence is such that they did not let their heads drop and continued lớn dominate before finding the goals lớn secure the victory.
It’s also worth noting that the club as a whole have had a settled summer with no obvious issues at manager or owner level. The preseason tour went well with no major hitches and the overall atmosphere seems to be one of stability and positivity. This will only help the players and coaching staff lớn focus on the job at hand.
Of course, not everything is rosy and certainly the squad is not perfect. Mourinho publicly stated he wanted a fourth signing and it was widely reported that Ivan Perisic was identified as the natural winger that it is currently lacking. Ultimately the pursuit was fruitless but there are any number of reasons why this is the case and it would not be constructive lớn speculate. There are still plenty of options in the wide positions and, in particular, Martial and Rashford have started the season well playing in tandem on the left. Adding a natural wing man is an issue Mourinho will likely look to address in the next couple of transfer windows as he searches for the extra options he feels he needs to complete the squad.
Of the top six clubs, United will likely be the happiest after the close of the transfer window. Having picked up maximum points from the opening games of the season without conceding a goal, they are well placed going into the international break. They have a settled, happy squad with a plethora of options in various positions and a balance lớn the ages of the players. Mourinho’s job now will be to maximise the potential he has at his disposal and manage the squad in order lớn navigate the challenges of competing in 4 competitions. This is where he will earn his crust as a coach, a manager and a mentor and United fans will give short shrift lớn any excuses that may be heard should he not deliver come the end of the season. For now, however, there should be optimism that this will be a successful season for the Red Devils.