Why Manchester United May Struggle To Keep Up With Their Rivals9 min read
Preseason mood is worrying
Manchester United’s pre-season tour to America might not have gone the way many would have wanted, with more problems arising than solutions being found on the pitch. José Mourinho has made his inner feelings very vocal over the past week by indicating to all that the players he currently has to work with are not good enough and that he is frustrated by the club’s stagnating transfer approach.
With Mourinho, nothing goes smoothly. It is always chaos and this season appears to be no different. United have been left wanting in the transfer market so far this summer, and with just one week to go until it closes, the Red Devils face the real possibility of starting the season weaker than where they left last time out.
It’s no surprise that the Portuguese boss is just to be the next Premier League manager to go – the second favourite behind Leicester gaffer Claude Puel.
While United might have finished second in the Premier League last season, the 19 points gap between them and their rivals, Manchester City, told the clearer picture of their progression under the Mourinho. Having only adding one player of genuine quality to their starting line-up in the shape of Brazilian Fred, fans are within their right to be worried about what the next 12 months might bring.
This season is not going to be an easy ride like it was during 2017/18. Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham are going to be within the fight now to try and dethrone Manchester City. It might well be the most competitive campaign spectators have seen for a number of years.
All change at the Emirates
Arsenal have changed their manager from Arsène Wenger to Unai Emery. It was the right decision from the Gunners’ board to part ways with their longtime manager. The former Paris Saint-Germain coach is going to give the club a new direction with plenty of hope instilled in the players.
If a new manager wasn’t enough for Arsenal fans, the arrival of Lucas Torreira should be. The Uruguayan quarter finalist lit up the World Cup with his performances and was in stellar form throughout last season with Sampdoria. Arsenal have been crying out for a competent defensive midfielder for some time now, and they have finally found that player who can slot right in.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan might have been purchased last season, but this is their first full campaign together on the back of a full pre-season. All three look fit and firing, ready for the new campaign to show their true capabilities in a thriving Arsenal attack. The Gunners now have the firepower and manager to be truly among the contenders for the Premier League.
Chelsea could thrive under Sarri
Chelsea, too, have changed their manager. From a tired-looking and immensely frustrated Antonio Conte to the emphatic Maurizio Sarri – a manager who lives and breathes attacking football. As we saw last season with his Napoli side, the Italian coach takes great pride in his brand of stylistic football and will implement that same philosophy with the Blues.
Jorginho (3197) played more passes than any other player in Europe's top 5 Leagues last season.
He completed 2860 of those passes, an 89.5% success rate. ? pic.twitter.com/kqfsfBaqcb
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 14, 2018
Steps have already been made to achieving that by signing Jorginho under the noses of Manchester City. It appeared that the Brazilian-born midfielder was going to sign for Pep Guardiola, but Chelsea wasted no time in getting a deal done and he has got valuable minutes for his new club during pre-season. Jorginho will be the anchor of Chelsea’s midfield and provide style and vigour when moving forward.
Liverpool have improved in all areas
Liverpool have been the most prolific in the transfer market this summer. With the arrivals of Alisson, Naby Keïta, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri, Jürgen Klopp has bolstered his squad and added some genuine quality to the starting 11 as well as the substitutes’ bench.
While the Reds might have had goalkeeping problems last season with Loris Karius between the sticks, Brazilian international Alisson is going to resolve those considerably. The former AS Roma ‘keeper has been one of Europe’s most promising and talented players over the last 12 months, with many suitors vying for his signature.
By having the ability to play out from the back – as well as being a world-class shot stopper – Liverpool now have a goalkeeper who they can trust completely and provide the foundation to their attacks.
With Liverpool’s front three being so prolific last season, Klopp’s team are in pole position to challenge City’s dominance over the division.
Consistent Spurs can’t be written off
Tottenham might not yet have strengthened their team by bringing anyone in just yet, but Daniel Levy, the chairman of the club, prefers to act late on in the market against the wishes of the supporters. Deadline day is usually quite memorable for those Spurs fans and this time is likely to be no different.
Spurs’ main business this summer has been finishing the construction of their brand new stadium, as well as tying down their first-team stars to long-term contracts. Tottenham have shown under Mauricio Pochettino that they are ones to watch out of the top six and continue to improve year in, year out.
They might not have the financial firepower just yet compared to the other five challengers, but Spurs’ on-pitch chemistry and understanding of the manger’s philosophy makes them a team full of cohesion. They will most certainly be in the hunt.
City camp still buzzing from magnificent season
And lest not forget, the current reigning champions, Man City. With only one major new signing in Riyad Mahrez, Guardiola evidently feels confident going into the new season with his glittering squad that will still be feeling the effects of being crowned a Premier League champion. It is clear as day that the Citizens are in sync with Guardiola’s philosophy and completely understand what is needed of them week in, week out.
With Manchester United currently polluting a negative atmosphere before the season has even begun, they are going to need big wins in their opening two matches against Leicester City and Brighton to give the fans hope for the year ahead. After those two opening rounds, Tottenham stand in their way, which will be their first real test.
It would be unwise to write United off given the players they have in their squad, but something needs to change quickly if they are to mount a serious challenge and not be left in the dark.