Manchester United: What we learned from the US tour
Jose Mourinho appears better placed ahead of new season than 12 months ago
Manchester United have returned from their pre-season tour of the US, where they played five matches. Jose Mourinho's side have three more scheduled, including the European Super Cup against Real Madrid, before the Premier League season begins.
This summer's preparations have been in stark contrast to last year's says James Ducker of the Daily Telegraph.
A "chaotic and, at times, farcical" tour of China "drastically undermined" Mourinho's plans 12 months ago. "By contrast, the set-up on United's 18-day tour of the US this summer could not have been more different."
High-quality facilities, strong opposition and good organisation have helped United's preparations.
So where do United stand after the tour?
According to their manager, Spurs are the team to beat next season, along with Chelsea and Man City. But when he says that "Mourinho may be being cute as privately he quite fancies United's chances", says Jamie Jackson of The Guardian.
Central to their ambitions will be Paul Pogba, who has impressed everyone on this tour.
"Mourinho never doubted his faith in Pogba's ability last season despite the Frenchman's critics and his belief in the midfielder has increased even further during this tour," says Paul Hirst of The Times.
"Pogba's form on tour in the US certainly augurs well," agrees Ducker of the Telegraph. "He was incisive and influential in most games and his passing [is] a potent weapon in helping to break down opponents."
Two others to enhance their reputations are Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford, says Hirst.
Mourinho "treasures" Lingard for his versatility and work rate. "The 24-year-old has vast reserves of energy and what has become clear on this tour is that his intelligence on the pitch has improved. "
Rashford, meanwhile, appears confident. "Question marks were raised about how much time Rashford would get next season under Mourinho after he signed Romelu Lukaku for £75m, but if anything, this tour showed that the teenager can play alongside the Belgian," says Hirst.
Talking of Lukaku the big Belgian, signed for £75m from Everton, has had an instant impact with two goals in the US.
"Mourinho adores a big goal-machine of a centre-forward – see Didier Drogba and Diego Costa – so he will hope Lukaku keeps on keeping on when the real stuff starts," says Jackson of the Guardian.
Things did not go so well for the other new arrival, defender Victor Lindelof. "The Sweden centre-half had an uncertain time of it in the US on tour," says Ducker of the Telegraph.
Hirst of the Times agrees. "There are times when he appears to be a fine reader of the game, but there is a general lack of composure and he will need to improve that once he starts playing in the Premier League."