Manchester United had a mixed 2016-17 season under the new manager Jose Mourinho, who won two trophies (we’re not including the Community Shield) along with an underwhelming Premier League campaign.
The highlights of the season included winning the EFL Cup and Europa League, which secured United a place in next season’s Champions League. That was the benchmark for Mourinho’s first season as the club, it’s fans and players expect to compete at the highest level.
There were individuals that shone under Mourinho during his first season at the club. Those include the vastly improved Ander Herrera, who won Player of the Year for United, in conjunction with Antonio Valencia and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
While it’s rightly considered an achievement to guarantee Champions League through winning the Europa League, a club of United’s stature should be fighting for Premier League titles. Not fourth place, which they lost out on to Liverpool last season.
United didn’t score enough goals and drew 15 games in the league. However, Ibrahimovic did manage to score 28 goals in all competitions, followed by both Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on 11.
But it was not a repeat of the Louis van Gaal era where United hardly created chances. The players just weren’t clinical enough, and in some cases, they had 35+ attempts on the opposition’s goal. Burnley at home is one that will play on the back of Mourinho’s mind.
Unless United go out and sign the likes of Alvaro Morata of Real Madrid, along with another one or two attack-minded signings, players such as Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Mkhitaryan need to chip in with more goals.
If the club complete the signing of a holding midfielder - developments have reportedly been made with Chelsea ace Nemanja Matic - Mourinho will be able to unleash Paul Pogba to complement the Frenchman’s ability.
As well as this, a natural goalscorer is needed to fill the boots of Ibrahimovic, who has been released by the club. Harry Kane would be ideal but it’s unlikely that he will leave Tottenham Hotspur, so all attention turns to Morata. Moreover, there’s another name worth mentioning. Torino striker Andrea Belotti scored 26 Serie A goals last season.
United also need to improve on their record against the Premier League’s top six. Last season, for instance, Mourinho’s men won just two games — at home to Spurs and Chelsea — while the rest of those games epitomised the Old Trafford club’s season.
There is no reason why Manchester United cannot challenge for the Premier League title next season if they can become more clinical in front of goal, and begin to show up in the big games. After all, Mourinho is in the process of building a typical Mourinho team; one that consists of winners with a fighting mentality.