It all officially starts tomorrow.
The premier league is back in full swing and having seen the impossible turn possible last season, it is more than fair to say that perhaps for the first time there are at least six serious contenders for the crown.
Excitement is back in Manchester following a fairly non eventful season for the two big clubs last time out. Louis Van Gaal was unprofessionally removed after having taken the club’s style to an unrecognizable functional form lacking in imagination. It was believed the FA cup win that was sealed thanks to one of the most memorable winners there have been by home grown talent Jesse Lingard, might have been a saving grace, but with the market for the top managers not particularly abundant and the another season out of the Champions League confirmed, the need for change was hastened.
Overall Van Gaal will probably be viewed as an outdated, stubborn manager if not a little eccentric however his track record for promoting young talent should not be forgotten. In fact, he managed to give debuts to fourteen players in his short spell. Something that United had always been praised for in their heights in the 90s in particular under Sir Alex Ferguson and even decades before with the famous Bubsy Babes, the tragic team that cruelly were denied the opportunity to flourish. Yet this pattern of youth being promoted from within which has been synonymous in Man United’s culture and success, is likely to come to an abrupt halt as now the seasons of speculation finally came to an end with manager Jose Mourinho officially taking the hotseat.
At Chelsea, the manager was sitting on a gold mine of talent with the Chelsea youth teams winning all there was to win at youth level. To say certain members of the team were knocking at the door was definitely fair to say but none were really fully integrated into the first team. At every club he has managed, Mourinho has tended to be someone who has favoured a particular type and certainly places a great deal of trust in older, experienced player who won’t provide so much manning. Since coming to United (and onto Instagram) he has shown that he is not afraid to take bold action and dismiss players that do not fit his plans as his recent treatment of Schweinsteiger demonstrates.
He has always been known to be a manager that operates best under expensive signings and his wishes have been granted early on. The signings made certainly clearly strengthen what the current team had. Players like Mkhitaryan and Ibrahimovic all come with proven Champions League pedigree. No more so than the latter who is well documented for his role in winning titles wherever he has played. Yet the team really made a statement with the world record signing of former youth player Paul Pogba.
The Frenchman comes into the side having been one of the starring performers in the Juventus side that dominated in Italy and went on to have an eventful run to the Champions League final in 2015. The Frenchman possesses all the traits that every modern day footballer could wish to have and at 23 years old certainly has his best years in front of him. How Mourinho gets the best out of him will be interesting, having seen Pogba deployed in varying roles in central midfield with ranging effectiveness in recent seasons, no more so than the recent European Championships.
Fans certainly have every right to have high expectations with the personnel and manager they now have. Furthermore, the lack of Champions League competition may actually prove to be a blessing as they can focus on a strong premier league campaign. Yet under closer examination, Mourinho’s recent job exits from Real Madrid and then from Chelsea have been brought about after the pressure that has built from the internal battles that he has fuelled. Worryingly, it has seemed appeared to be down to an inner need for conflict that is inherent in his dealings and arguably what makes him the winner he has always been. It is not too difficult to imagine some form of conflict appearing at some stage at Manchester United given the tradition and values of the club. Fair to say, if there is not some heat on the inside, there will certainly be some on the outside with old adversary Pep Guardiola taking the post at city and title rivals Manchester City.