From the Match of the Day studio to the club’s online forums, the verdict on Manchester United’s 4-0 demolition of West Ham United was pretty unanimous. This was the Red Devils’ finest display since Jose Mourinho took the reins.
But while the hosts’ West Hammering (feel free to steal that one!) saw them secure top spot in the Premier League after the opening weekend, there’s reason to believe the result is far bigger than just an impressive 90 minutes.
In fact, here’s why we think it underlines the Old Trafford club’s title credentials…
This is the kind of game they couldn’t win last term
On the Irons’ previous visit to M16, they came away with a 1-1 draw. That was one of 10 Premier League games Mourinho’s men drew at Old Trafford last season. And a startling number of those came against the league’s less illustrious sides.
In fact, seven of those 10 draws involved sides outside the top eight, with eventually-relegated Hull City among the clubs to take a point away from the Theatre of Dreams. And interestingly, every one of those outings ended either 0-0 or 1-1.
Man United’s problem last season was simple: they couldn’t break down rigid, well-organised sides who sat deep. And on the few occasions they did get in behind the defences of sides like Hull, Burnley and Stoke City, the hosts’ finishing let them down.
However, the Red Devils swept aside a West Ham side who came to do just that at Old Trafford on Sunday. Clinical in front of goal – netting with four of their six shots on target – they were also the width of a post (Marcus Rashford) and bar (Daley Blind) away from adding to that tally.
Though it’s still very early days, their revitalised, ruthless edge with brace-grabbing Romelu Lukaku leading the line has fans rightly dreaming of the glory days returning.
Matic and Lukaku already look to be great fits
Much has been made of the club’s lavish spending this summer, but already Man United’s two most expensive additions – Nemanja Matic and Lukaku – have announced themselves in some style.
The Serbian was voted Man of the Match on Sunday, following a commanding midfield display. Meanwhile, the all-action Lukaku bullied the Irons backline, nodding home two composed headers to add to his UEFA Super Cup strike, and generally proving an almighty nuisance for the East Londoners’ defence.
While Matic looks the ideal successor to Michael Carrick – a classy passer of the ball with added dynamism and physicality, the former Everton hitman is already linking up superbly with the likes of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford.
When United look this slick in week one, their title rivals have reason to worry.
Increased physicality means they can handle a battle
The list of games where Man United have been outfought and outmuscled in recent years are almost too numerous to count. May 2015’s 3-2 defeat to West Ham United, and last season’s losses away to Watford and Feyenoord being just three such examples.
However, against a relatively powerful Irons side, the hosts dominated the physical elements of the game. Eric Bailly won just about every aerial tussle he was involved in, while Paul Pogba and Matic were Gandalf-esque in their ‘you shall not pass’ attitude.
In fact, the home side managed to limit their visitors to a single shot on target, with former Old Trafford ace and prolific hitman Javier Hernandez forced to feed on scraps up front for the visitors. It’s hard to see anyone overcoming this Red Devils side anytime soon…
Meanwhile, they’ve leapfrogged Chelsea into second in the Premier League Winner market, with Jose’s aces 11/4 to lift the title for the first time since 2013.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing