In Depth

Man United rout is best performance since Alex Ferguson

Jose Mourinho's team deliver a statement of intent on the opening weekend of the Premier League

The Premier League returned with a bang at the weekend. Perhaps the most startling performance came from Manchester United, who demolished West Ham 4-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday to send a warning to the rest of the division.

Romelu Lukaku had a dream debut, scoring twice as United ran amok, while Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba also found the net. But there were notable displays elsewhere, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford and Nemanja Matic all impressive.

"This was the most exhilarating football that Manchester United have played since Sir Alex Ferguson was in the dugout not the directors' box," says Henry Winter of The Times.  "This victory was a throwback to the Ferguson era when attacking vibrancy was the norm, when a rout was almost routine.

"For all the concerns about Jose Mourinho's pragmatic nature when he arrived at Old Trafford, the Portuguese knows full well the club's great history, and here were signs of him being prepared to unleash United fully."

James Ducker of the Daily Telegraph agrees. "Attacking in waves at breakneck pace with a relentlessness that suffocates the opposition, this was a swashbuckling exhibition of football that showcased just how good they can be as an attacking unit when their expensive parts align so fluidly. West Ham United simply could not live with them and, in the end, were fortunate it was only 4-0."

The arrival of Matic has freed up the rest of the midfield, says Ducker. The "most obvious beneficiary" has been Pogba and "the Frenchman bestrode the midfield like a colossus".

For Jamie Jackson of The Guardian it was the "Romelu Lukaku-Marcus Rashford show" that stood out.

"The Belgian's double put United in pole position… and Rashford again proved he can be the X-factor the manager desperately requires if he is to lead United to a 21st championship."

United certainly looked like a team on a mission, says Mike Keegan of Mailonline.

They "oozed Mourinho" he says. "For the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson's departure, there is a spine running through the team. Eric Bailly, Matic, Pogba, Lukaku. They are big, quick and dynamic… This is a starting XI built for endurance that will bully opponents."

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