It was apparently odds on that Manchester United would sign at least one new player as the transfer season came to a close, or to use the more modern phrase “slammed shut”. Jose Mourinho only a few days before had said in his televised interview he had given a list of five players to the CO Ed Woodward some time ago. Now he added he would like two but he would be happy with one. In the end apart from an untried youthful defender, an ageing goalkeeper and a Brazilian midfielder with the unlikely name “Fred”, there were no other major recruits.
Whatever goes on at boardroom level that the fans are not privy to, reading between the lines, it seems Mourinho’s choice of buying ready-made stars has now come to an end. In truth, the idea of buying another centre back when there are five at the club seems a bit odd. So Mourinho has to do the best with what he has in this squad at least till January.
In their opening game against Leicester City, last Friday night United huffed and puffed and just about got over the line against a determined team 2-1.
Awarded a penalty if the early minutes Paul Pogba, who has his own narrative going on at the moment, attacked the ball in the style of a man trying to walk up a down escalator, before placing it firmly in the net putting United 1-0 up.
Luke Shaw who has endured a couple of seasons of personal highs and lows but mainly lows scored his first ever goal in the Premiership in the second half. In the end, his goal won the match as Jamie Vardy headed in for Leicester, from a curling cross which hit the post, in injury time. It must have seemed strange for the travelling Leicester City supporters to see Vardy only on the substitutes bench at the kickoff.
Mourinho in his press conference after the match explained that because of the World Cup and the subsequent lack of training due to late holidays some of his players were not ready. Pogba however, he said, “was a monster” to last as long as he did according to Mourinho at least.
Interestingly David DeGea who had returned from the World Cup showed once again on a couple of occasions why he should be classed as the finest goalkeeper in the world. He left the blunders he sometimes shows when he plays for his national team, Spain, on the field in Russia.
For a brief moment on Friday night Manchester United sat proudly on top of the Premiership table. Of course, it did not last long with rivals Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea all winning over the weekend. The consensus from football pundits is that at the end of the season City and Liverpool will finish ahead of United while some ‘experts’ predict United will finish out of the top four.
Predictions can make fools of us all and after one game nothing is set in stone. However, Mourinho is a serial winner and while he may not have gotten the recruits he craved a few months ago he still has an ocean of talent to pick from. Whether he has the way of it all to win the Premiership after finishing second last season is open to debate. If anyone can do it, he can, whether he will it is too early to call.