With the Premier League season less than a week away, clubs are nearing panic mode as they try and prepare for the new season in the best way they can. Some clubs are more prepared than others and for others, well, that’s a different story...
Manchester United have done some good business this summer, but with over £150m spent they’ve made just three signings. While last season was ultimately better terms of acquisitions under Jose Mourinho’s stewardship, they’re going to need a few more new faces if they’re going to mount a serious challenge on the title.
United were held by six bottom-half teams at Old Trafford this season with West Ham, Hull, Stoke, Burnley, Swansea and West Brom all leaving with a point. Old Trafford has become far from the fortress it once was and the Reds only managed 54 goals last term, 23 fewer than Arsenal who finished just one place above them.
Due to United’s shyness in front of goal, a new striker to replace the injured and potentially released Zlatan Ibrahimović, that’s not to mention the shake-up that was desperately needed.
Step forward Romelu Lukaku in another incredible deal, worth a potential £90m. United haven’t been scared of flexing their financial muscle these last few years and were linked with Alvaro Morata for the majority of the window. When that fell through it was a look over to Merseyside and one of the hottest strikers in the English top flight.
Lukaku will undoubtedly help to bolster United’s attacking ranks, and you can tell the Belgian is heavily favoured if you compare football bookmakers markets where he is 7/2 to be the league’s top scorer with most. Only Harry Kane is tipped ahead of him, with Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and Premier League new boys Alvaro Morata and Alexandre Lacazette way behind in the pecking order.
The positive about recruiting Lukaku over Morata is that the former is proven in the Premier League with 85 goals over the last five seasons. Netting 25 last season and grabbing a further six assists, his record is phenomenal for a 24-year-old and he without doubt possesses the quality needed to spearhead a push to break back into the top four.
Whether he is talented enough to help for a title push is a different matter. United are 100/30 to win the Premier League this season. If they are to be anywhere the top, it’s vital they perform better than last season both in front of goal, and against the lesser teams.
Questions have been raised about what this move means for young Marcus Rashford, but if pre-season is anything to go by, Lukaku should also help the 19-year-old flourish. It’s likely they will play alongside each other, with the Englishman likely to take up a position on the wing.
There’s high hopes for Rashford at Old Trafford and he is 100/1 to score 260 Premier League goals during his career, a feat only yet achieved by Alan Shearer Elsewhere in terms of incomings, Victor Lindelof needs to overcome his shaky pre-season displays.
Mourinho has called for the United faithful to give the Swedish man time, but slip-ups will be costly. Nemanja Matic, recently joining for a £40m fee from rivals Chelsea, will certainly relieve the pressure in front of that back four and looks a solid signing both for the defence and allowing Paul Pogba a little more freedom to go forward.
Despite only three signings, they give the impression that Mourinho is a man with a plan. A return to the Champions League for United of course adds pressure, but it’s a challenge that Mourinho should thrive on if he really is still the Special One. Without a mounting Europa League fixture list to battle with, United have no excuse not to perform and are 14/1 for European glory.