After 13 premier league titles since 1992/93, Old Trafford still yearns for more and as Manchester United begin the 2016/17 season under the tutelage of new manager Jose Mourinho only one thing will be on the minds of Mancunians – to see Captain Wayne Rooney lift the title at the end of May.
To deliver this honour, Mourinho will need a team of warriors who he can count on come rain or sun. The Portuguese have recruited very well this summer bringing in the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eric Bailly, Henrik Mkhitaryan, and Paul Pogba for £89.4m – a word record fee.
However, the France international and Chris Smalling will not be part of the squad for the Red Devils first game against Bournemouth due to carry over suspension from last season but the team should be strong enough to deliver the goods on Sunday.
366football takes a look at the Manchester United squad and narrows it down to the best eleven that could help Mourinho win the premier league title in his debut season for the club.
Smalling, de Gea, Bailly, Valencia, Shaw
The first name on the team sheet for Manchester United in the last four years has been David de Gea and it is set to continue under Mourinho as the Spaniard have been rock-solid for the Old Trafford landlords winning the club’s Player of the year award three consecutive times.
Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly will be the preferred partnership at center back for the Portuguese throughout the season but for Sunday’s match against Bournemouth Daley Blind will play alongside the Ivorian defender like we saw in the Community victory against current premier league champions Leicester City.
Smalling played in 18 of the 19 matches Manchester United kept a clean sheet last season as he had his best season yet at the club and his growth is expected to continue this season under Mourinho.
Bailly is a fearless tackler of the ball and although he is not built like the iron-man looking Robert Hurth or Les Morgan of Leicester his smooth ways of playing has been liken to United legend Rio Ferdinand.
Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw will play as wingbacks in Mourinho’s team. The Ecuadorian was converted last season from a right winger to a right back by former manager Louis van Gaal and the former Real Madrid manager has allowed him continue with that role and he has flourished so far.
Against Galatasaray in pre-season he created three chances out of the five goals United scored past the Turkish giants and during the Community Shield he assisted Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s winner.
Luke Shaw is already looking like a new signing and will be preferred to Marcus Rojo or Daley Blind for the left-back position.
Shaw is daring and will cause teams problems galloping down the left-flank. He was out for the whole 2015/16 season after a horrible double leg break but he looks renewed and fresh for the new season – a definite plus for Manchester United.
Manchester United once won the league title without losing a game at home and Mourinho will aim at that feat with his new defense quartet.
Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Martial, Schneiderlin
The midfield will be key to the kind of formation, Jose Mourinho will adapt for his Manchester United team.
He likes to play the 4-2-3-1 formation like he did for Porto, Chelsea, and Inter Milan. Sometimes he plays the 4-1-2-1-2 formation like he did with Real Madrid but at Manchester United the tradition is 4-4-2.
The big question is will Jose change from the norm? Yes, he will and he has already judging by his pre-season and the Community Shield game against the Foxes.
France teammates Morgan Schneiderlin and Paul Pogba will prove steel in the middle with the former Juventus star given the license to probe forward at will while Henrik Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial will be tasked with creating chances for the attack.
Mkhitaryan is an assists monster as he built a reputation as Europe’s best passer last season with Borussia Dortmund and a lot of that will be seen in his first season with the club.
Martial was the best outfield player for Manchester United last season and will be expected to kick on this season. He brings genuine pace to the United attack and can be devastating on full flow.
Jesse Lingard scored a brilliant goal for Manchester United at Wembley against Leicester City but will have to fight for a place in the team with Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata and surprisingly Mourinho gave him the nod over those two in his first official match for the club which was huge for the 23-year-old and he made a claim for the position with a solo statement goal but going into the season, Armenian Captain Mkhitaryan is expected to get the nod as the creative hub of the Red Devils.
Manchester United have won the premier league with an 18 points margin in the past and Mourinho will task his midfielders to create enough chances for his strikers to score as he will hope for such dominance.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney
It will be difficult for Jose Mourinho to leave any of these lads out of his first eleven for what they bring to the team is amazing.
Ibrahimovic was the best player and topscorer in France before he joined Manchester United on a free transfer this summer and has already shown what he is all about with a bicycle kick goal against Galatasaray in pre-season and a towering header against Leicester City in the Community Shield which proved the winner.
He brings huge personality to United and Mancunians already love him to bits but the premier league takes no prisoners so he will have to produce at his very best which he can.
Wayne Rooney is the second highest all-time topscorer in the premier league with 193 goals and to win the domestic title as Captain will be a huge motivation for the player whom Jose Mourinho tried to sign when he was coach of Chelsea.
The presence of Ibrahimovic and Rooney is a huge blessing for Marcus Rashford who broke into the scene last season with vital goals for the Red Devils. He will be a fantastic backup for the duo as United compete for the premier league, Europa Cup, Capital One Cup, and FA Cup titles.
Manchester United holds the records for the highest home and away wins in the premier league with 9-0 and 8-1 respectively and with Ibrahimovic and Rooney leading the attack teams’ better watchout.
Mourinho likes to concentrate on defending and win with odd goals but his current side is capable of blowing teams out of the waters and that excites us at FCNaija.com because it makes for a great season spectacle.