The giants of Old Trafford landed two trophies last season as well as earning a place in the Champions League, but Manchester United fans will expect more this campaign. Can Jose Mourinho deliver and claim the Premier League title?
Defeats to Manchester City and Watford in September, followed by a run of one win in eight games between October and December, effectively ended United’s 2016-17 Premier League challenge. From that point on they were always too far behind to catch the main contenders, and going deep into the EFL Cup and the Europa League put a further strain on their resources. Victories in both of those competitions were welcome, as was qualification for the Champions League, but a sixth-placed Premier League finish was a disappointment, as was the number of drawn games – fifteen – the highest in the division.
United have been given a relatively easy start to the campaign with fixtures against West Ham, Leicester and Swansea, and they don’t meet a top six rival until their game against Liverpool at the beginning of October. That should give them the chance to build up some momentum for what is sure to be a tough Premier League battle.
Bookmakers still make them third favourites for the title, but there has been money coming in for Mourinho’s men throughout the summer and they are currently best-priced 9/2 with Black Type to win the Premier League outright, close behind second-favourites Chelsea. Anything less than a top four finish would be a disaster, given the money that has been spent at Old Trafford, and they are 2/5 with Black Type to make the Top Four and 1/10 with Ladbrokes to finish in the Top Six. But if you think this season could go the way of Mourinho’s last disastrous campaign at Chelsea, you can back them at 100/1 with SkyBet to finish in the bottom half.
Victories in the EFL Cup and the Europa League last season brought much-needed silverware to Old Trafford, but this season the club will be aiming for higher profile cup successes, most notably the Champions League. They are 16/1 with BetFred to become the champions of Europe, while you can back them at 7/1 with William Hill to win the FA Cup and 7/1 with BetVictor to successfully defend their EFL Cup title.
Mourinho may be expecting more from Paul Pogba in his second season in English football, but there is little doubt over the identity of United’s most important player in the forthcoming campaign.
Lack of goals was a persistent problem for the team last season, and Mourinho’s tactics always put a lot of pressure on the lone striker. If United are to return to the top of English football, then Romelu Lukaku will have to play a major part, emulating the performances of Didier Drogba, who led the line so impressively for Mourinho at Chelsea. Lukaku scored a healthy 25 goals for Everton last season and with better service he has the ability to exceed that total, which is why he is the second favourite behind Harry Kane in the race to claim the Premier League Golden Boot, for which he can be backed at 9/2 with Coral.
United have been one of the biggest spenders in the Premier League this summer, splashing out £75 million on Romelu Lukaku, £31 million on defender Victor Lindelof and £40 million on snatching Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic. When added to the money already spent last year on Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly, the total transfer spend since Mourinho joined the club is close to £300 million, and there may be more to come. Internazionale striker Ivan Perisic is believed to be the next player on the Mourinho wish-list.