In Review

Premier League previews: Pressure on Man Utd to deliver

Jose Mourinho always wins a big trophy in his second season and the pieces are falling into place at Old Trafford

Of all the big teams it's arguably Man United who have enjoyed the best summer. Jose Mourinho's outfit now looks ready to step up a level from last season and challenge for the Premier League title.

United finished sixth last time, but still won two trophies and in doing so also qualified for the Champions League. Since then the manager has plugged the gaps in his team with big new signings.

A team in Mourinho's image

Since taking over at Old Trafford the Portuguese has spent almost £300m and his side is starting to look like a battle-hardened Mourinho unit.

He has a big striker in Romelu Lukaku and a powerful attacking midfielder in Paul Pogba. Nemanja Matic can reprise his role as enforcer, with either Eric Bailly or Victor Lindelof hopefully establishing themselves as a dominant centre back in front of the solid David de Gea.

His side are also "battle-hardened" says Jamie Jackson of The Guardian. Mourinho has tipped Spurs as the title favourites but "do not be fooled". Mourinho's team "has been built primarily for domestic competition. It is big and strong, a powerhouse outfit the manager will instruct to try and bully most opponents."

"A formidable unit can be fielded on any match-day that would contain only a couple of players Mourinho has inherited and is lukewarm about – the centre-back Phil Jones and Daley Blind or Matteo Darmian, the potential left-backs.

Crucially says Miguel Delaney of The Independent, United know what it is to win trophies and Mourinho "will hope it gives them a new assertiveness, because that is what an occasionally meek team arguably lacked above anything last season".

But the hard-fought victories, the new additions and a solid pre-season augur well.

"Mourinho sides throughout his managerial career have always peaked in his second season," adds the Daily Mirror. "At Porto that meant winning the Champions League, likewise at Inter. Real Madrid wrestled La Liga away from Pep Guardiola in his second spell at the Bernabeu and in his second spell at Stamford Bridge, it meant the title."

But the pressure is on

With optimism comes expectation. The United fans are desperate for a title push five years after Alex Ferguson stepped down and the Glazer family will want to see some return on investment.

"Come next May, United must be challenging," says the Mirror. "They don't necessarily have to be champions – after all, there are six sides pushing for the top honour – but they have to be in the conversation."

That is the "minimum demand and undeniable truth" for United agrees Jackson in the Guardian. "Given the Portuguese's backing in the transfer market, he has no excuses if they are not challengers."

Players like Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial must step up if that is to happen, and United's home form must improve.

"United need to rekindle the fear factor at Old Trafford where they drew ten games last season," says the Daily Mail. "Much of this was down to United's profligacy, with only Southampton, Middlesbrough and Sunderland converting fewer of their shots. The likes of Lukaku and Marcus Rashford must take their chances if United are to kick on."

Prediction:

Most of the pundits agree that United will mount a challenge this season, but no one appears bold enough to tip them for the title. The Guardian places them third and a poll at the BBC sees them come out second.

Recommended

Premier League goes to the wire: the ‘most exciting’ final day ever?
Will Man City or Liverpool lift the Premier League trophy?
View from the terraces

Premier League goes to the wire: the ‘most exciting’ final day ever?

Jake Daniels comes out as gay: a landmark moment
Jake Daniels made his first-team debut for Blackpool against Peterborough on 7 May 
View from the terraces

Jake Daniels comes out as gay: a landmark moment

Messi vs. Ronaldo: all-time goals, career stats and trophies
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
Profile

Messi vs. Ronaldo: all-time goals, career stats and trophies

Europa League final: Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Rangers preview and predictions
The Uefa Europa League trophy at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium in Seville
The big match

Europa League final: Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Rangers preview and predictions

Popular articles

The mysterious Russian oligarch deaths
Vladimir Putin has previously deployed ‘extreme measures’ to crush opposition
Why we’re talking about . . .

The mysterious Russian oligarch deaths

Is Vladimir Putin seriously ill?
Vladimir Putin
Why we’re talking about . . .

Is Vladimir Putin seriously ill?

Depp v. Heard: what the latest battle has revealed
Amber Heard
In Depth

Depp v. Heard: what the latest battle has revealed

The Week Footer Banner