It is a fairy tale start to the new season for the Red Devils. With consecutive 4-0 wins, followed by a solid hard earned 2-0 win, they sit right on the top of the table. Their unstoppable attack banging in 10 goals and their solid defense conceding in none, gives them a mammoth goal difference unmatched by any other team (The second best being just 5). Here are some major talking points contributing to their brilliant start.
Their attack has been absolutely fluid, fueled by pace, energy and sublime passing thanks to the creative minds of Mkhitaryan & Mata along with the pace and energy of Lukaku & Rashford and Martial coming on late with full enthusiasm giving the tiring legs of the opposition nightmares. Manchester United looked to have turned over last season’s ruthlessness in front of goal this season with the signing of a more mobile forward in Lukaku. Another big factor is change of Mkhitaryan’s form, last season even though he rocked the Europa League, he was comparatively ineffective in the PL. This season in already 3 matches he has recorded 5 assists in comparison to just 1 the whole last season. Here are current stats of the Man Utd forwards this season proving the above statements.
The defence has also been rock solid with Eric Bailly putting in all to get tackles and tussle out his strong opponents. His partner in crime Phil Jones, has been phenomenal. As many say, in the current Man Utd side Phil Jones is irreplaceable when fit, which is itself a concern as Jones is quite injury prone. The sticks being covered by arguably the best goalkeeper right now – David de Gea, there is very less to worry. With Valencia covering their right flank there is no shortage of pace and energy. Daley Blind is also reliable on the left flank with his composure and vision. The real test of the defence came against Leicester City, where the foxes seemed quite confident going forward with Vardy and Mahrez, but the United defence stood strong and kept their 3rd consecutive clean sheet of the season.
Stitching their attack and defence together perfectly, standing right in the heart of the midfield are the two talismans – Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic. Matic has been a wonder signing by Mourinho what seemed to be desperate measure by many of the fans. He has revived the real Pogba, who somewhat went missing last season. As Matic takes control of the midfield, shielding the defence, it gives Pogba full freedom to attack and show his qualities to fullest which he has done in these games, the freedom which he was lacking last season. N. Matic’s composure on the ball, his strength and tackling is unmatched. P. Pogba seems to be a different player altogether this season. Skills, tackles, shots, passing, crosses he is doing everything. He has had a blistering start to the season with 2 goals and 1 assists.
A large section of the Man Utd fanbase has been quite worried about the absence of their favourite player Ander Herrera, if signing Matic reduces his importance in the team and makes him the bench player. But there seems no reason to be worried as Mourinho knows what he is doing and Herrera is definitely still one of the most important players, as he is saving him for more high intensity matches against top teams where the team needs much more energy and aggression in the midfield.
One of the biggest news of the summer is Man Utd re-signing Zlatan. Re-signing him has given the club a much needed experience of playing at the top level and in major competitions like UEFA Champions League. He gives the attack a much needed variation and extra legs to depend upon as one cannot simply depend upon Lukaku for all the goals (keeping in mind Martial and Rashford but they are too young to be considered as main strikers for big matches). And his upbeat and inspiring personality is definitely unmatched, bringing in positiveness in the dressing room.
Mourinho has been known to make right and effective decisions at the most critical times. And he has shown this with substitutions. Out of the 10 goals scored, the substituted players had a hand in 5 of them, with 4 goals and 2 assists coming in from them. This shows the effectiveness of the players coming in late and the match changing decisions that Mourinho makes. The most effective player from the bench seems to be A. Martial this season. He started from bench in the first two matches and has bagged 2 goals and an assist.
SECOND SEASON SYNDROME
The phrase ‘second season syndrome’ is normally used to describe an out-of-form striker after a strong debut campaign, or an underdog team sent back to where they belong, after a year of inflated success – the footballing equivalent of a band’s difficult second album. However, Jose Mourinho, as ever, has his own ‘special’ interpretation of the term. Mourinho has never failed to win the domestic title in his second season with any of the teams he has managed in his career. Porto, Inter, Chelsea (on both occasions) and Real Madrid have all enjoyed the Special One’s sophomore successes. Will he be able to repeat his feat with Man Utd this season? Well they look favourites, atleast the time being.
Still it is very early to judge, but this Man Utd side looks different, and one thing is for sure – Mourinho’s men are on a mission. So big things can be expected from Manchester United this season.