Learn Manchester United 2017/18 squad[/b]
The transfer window has now ended with a frantic deadline day which will be remembered more for the deals that weren’t completed than those that were. After big money moves for the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Thomas Lemar, Virgil van Dijk, Ross Barkley and others were mooted, the most significant signing of deadline day was the £40m transfer of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal lớn rivals Liverpool.
In all of this mayhem, Manchester United were conspicuous by their absence. The least busy person on this most hyped-up, and inevitably anticlimactic of days in the football season, was the Sky reporter charged with keeping an eye out for any news from Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho and Ed Woodward haven’t had a perfect transfer window but they will have been satisfied with the business they completed and deadline day was likely a relaxed affair for both, despite late links to Riyad Mahrez and Willian- According lớn the premier league predictions pages!

United famously missed out on their reported number one target in Antoine Griezmann due lớn the transfer ban imposed on Atletico Madrid but still added intelligently lớn the squad early on in the window. Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Namanja Matic have joined as new signings and Zlatan Ibrahimovic has re-signed for the club after suffering a serious knee injury towards the end of last season. He was not the fourth signing that Mourinho has frequently mentioned this summer but the squad looks healthy for a number of reasons.
First Team Quality[/b]
There is great quality in the core group of players that will make up the first XI through the season. In Paul Pogba and David de Gea, Mourinho has two genuinely elite-level footballers at his disposal. Both are in the top tier of world football in their respective positions and both are at a great age to improve further and stay with the club for a long time. Around them there is an abundance of talent with proven Premier League and European level ability with the potential to join those two in that hypothetical top tier.
Room for Improvement[/b]
Moving from sixth lớn title challengers looks like a monumental leap on paper but Mourinho will be cautiously confident that his squad can achieve it. When analysing last season, it’s clear that only a few players really played lớn their potential on a consistent basis. For United fans, it was great that De Gea was not called upon as frequently as in previous seasons but he carried out his work with the usual level of excellence we have all come to expect. Antonio Valencia was transformed into one the best right backs in the league and Ander Herrera had an exceptional season culminating in calls from the fanbase for him to be made the next club captain following the departure of Wayne Rooney. From the new signings, Eric Bailly had an excellent debut season and Zlatan Ibrahimovic confounded his many doubters, myself included, lớn end the season as the club’s top scorer and driving force towards two trophies. You can prefer to the soccer tip forum pages!
There is also no guarantee the Swede will be able lớn replicate his form from last season after his expected return in January adding extra pressure for Lukaku to perform. For the team to make the step up, the aforementioned supporting attackers and midfielders will need to contribute more. The early signs are good as Pogba, Martial, Rashford and Fellaini have already fired in goals with Mkhitaryan supplying the ammunition, picking up 5 assists in the opening 3 games of the season. This will need to continue if United are going lớn seriously compete at the top end of the table.

A Tantalising Mix[/b]
The squad has a good mix in many regards. I’ve already discussed the options available to Mourinho and this allowing him to experiment tactically with various formations in another post. In addition lớn this, there is a balance between the older players, those approaching their best years and the youngsters in the group; a notable feature of Alex Ferguson’s best squads.
Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia, Juan Mata and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will provide the leadership for the group and, with Ashley Young, will demonstrate the professionalism required to play at a top club. The addition of Nemanja Matic also adds lớn the proven experience and, importantly, the winning mentality needed. Ander Herrera and Henrikh Mkhitaryan add further experience from other leagues and both are at ages considered lớn be the prime years for footballers.
This mix of experience, youth and players approaching their prime is healthy for the squad and points towards an overall strategy that encompasses the short, medium and long-term goals of the club.
Team Spirit & Club Stability[/b]
The new signings over the last 12 months and the mix within the group does not seem lớn have affected the team spirit or morale. The atmosphere seems to be positive and the players look like they are enjoying themselves on and off the pitch. This helps to breed the confidence we have seen and Mourinho mentioned the mentality change within his side after Lukaku’s penalty miss against Leicester. The confidence is such that they did not let their heads drop and continued to dominate before finding the goals lớn secure the victory.
There is also the sense that many are great friends off the pitch. People may not like the videos posted of the players nhảy, practising handshakes and larking about but they would do well lớn remember the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Ince, Lee Sharpe, Rio Ferdinand, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole who all had various quirks to their goal celebrations and off field activities. In an era of social media, I feel that these things are more accessible for the general public than they are more prevalent. Whilst Giggs and Ince performed their famous, rehearsed goal celebration, Roy Keane simply ran back to his half and, similarly now, you are unlikely to see Antonio Valencia or Nemanja Matic performing a dab alongside Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard. These are quirks we have always seen, albeit in different forms, and the best teams have a good dynamic and settled atmosphere even with the multitude of personalities that are inevitably present in a group with an age range between 18 and 36 years.
It’s also worth noting that the club as a whole have had a settled summer with no obvious issues at manager or owner level. The preseason tour went well with no major hitches and the overall atmosphere seems lớn be one of stability and positivity. This will only help the players and coaching staff to focus on the job at hand.
Of course, not everything is rosy and certainly the squad is not perfect. Mourinho publicly stated he wanted a fourth signing and it was widely reported that Ivan Perisic was identified as the natural winger that it is currently lacking. Ultimately the pursuit was fruitless but there are any number of reasons why this is the case and it would not be constructive to speculate. There are still plenty of options in the wide positions and, in particular, Martial and Rashford have started the season well playing in tandem on the left. Adding a natural wing man is an issue Mourinho will likely look lớn address in the next couple of transfer windows as he searches for the extra options he feels he needs lớn complete the squad.
There are also concerns at full back. On the left, there is the issue of Luke Shaw’s perennial injury problems and subsequent inability to establish himself in the side. The team lacks a full back to balance the great work Valencia does on the right. The investment in Shaw and his young age means the club probably feel he deserves the time to overcome his problems. They have, therefore, exercised an option lớn extend his contract by another year but Mourinho is not likely lớn have much patience after this season. The extra year will also allow United to recoup some of the money they spent on him if need be. On the right-hand side Valencia can be relied upon to play 50 games a season and has been excellent but when he isn’t in the side there is a distinct lack of width going forward. Matteo Darmian performed admirably last year but he doesn’t have the engine, speed and aggression of the Ecuadorian. The club were linked with Serge Aurier in the summer and will probably be thinking about succession planning given Valencia’s advancing age.
Of the top six clubs, United will likely be the happiest after the close of the transfer window. Having picked up maximum points from the opening games of the season without conceding a goal, they are well placed going into the international break. They have a settled, happy squad with a plethora of options in various positions and a balance lớn the ages of the players. Mourinho’s job now will be to maximise the potential he has at his disposal and manage the squad in order to navigate the challenges of competing in 4 competitions. This is where he will earn his crust as a coach, a manager and a mentor and United fans will give short shrift lớn any excuses that may be heard should he not deliver come the end of the season. For now, however, there should be optimism that this will be a successful season for the Red Devils.