Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho may have been told he has three seasons to deliver a Premier League title to Old Trafford, but the confident boss claims he informed the Red Devils’ board – “I wanted to win the title in the first season.”
It’s a bold statement, but there’s plenty of reason to believe the Portuguese gaffer can – and will – end United’s wait for the title at the first time of asking. Here’s why…
Top players in, deadwood out
Let’s start with the obvious one. Up front, Zlatan Ibrahimovic – who scored 38 goals in 31 Ligue 1 games last season at PSG – could well solve United’s goal-shy nature.
Indeed, in 2015-16 United scored their fewest league goals since 1989-90 – a stat which undermined their continued defensive strength, as they conceded just 35 goals.
And they look set to further tighten up with the acquisition of impressive centre-back Eric Bailly, while last season’s ageing midfield will be given a new injection of pace and creativity by Armenia captain Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Meanwhile, the new boss has been working to shift potentially unhappy players unlikely to have been in the running for first-team football, with the likes of Victor Valdes, Nick Powell and Ashley Fletcher exiting Old Trafford.
First season titles are a Mourinho specialty
In three of Jose Mourinho’s last five managerial jobs, he’s delivered a League title in the first season – while it’s taken him just two years on the other occasions, in his second stint at Chelsea and his time at Real Madrid.
Among the talents the ‘Special One’ can boast is an ability to get his sides playing together as a team from the word go. Forget the debacle at Chelsea last time out, which was a one-time blip. This is a manager who gets his message across immediately and builds a squad which will buy into it.
Never was that more evident than at Stamford Bridge, where he began his first season in English football – 2004-05 – with a Premier League campaign where the Blues won 29 times and lost just once, en route to an astonishing 95-point haul and a first league title for 50 years.
No Champions League football could be a benefit
Failing to provide football at Europe’s top table for a second season in three years will surely continue to be a source of frustration for the Old Trafford faithful, who are used to seeing their players battle against the continent’s elite.
But it could prove to be a blessing in disguise for United, with several of their likely title rivals – Manchester City, Tottenham, and Arsenal – having to juggle Premier League football with a gruelling European schedule.
The Red Devils are in this season’s Europa League, but it’s likely the new boss will rest up top names in that competition, and give game time to exciting young talents like Tim Fosu-Mensah, Andreas Pereira, and Joe Riley.
And that experience could give those young players the preparation and match-fitness to slot into the United line-up in Premier League games, to cover injuries, or add an injection of pace from the bench.
He’s got the backing of everyone at Old Trafford
While David Moyes struggled to secure a good transfer budget from the board in his first season, and Louis van Gaal eventually used up his reserve of good will with the fans, Jose Mourinho has been greeted with support and positivity from all corners within the club.
Over 7,000 United fans turned out for the new gaffer’s pre-season friendly at Wigan Athletic, while vice-chairman Ed Woodward has given the Portuguese boss a gargantuan transfer warchest this summer – with Paul Pogba looking increasingly likely to join for a fee of £100m+. With everyone pulling in the same direction, the north-west giants are set to become a formidable force again.
With all that in mind, Man United look a superb bet to win the title at odds of 7/2.
But Mourinho could pick up his first piece of silverware for the club in the coming fortnight, with the Red Devils 17/20 to beat Leicester City in the Community Shield at Wembley.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing