Much has been said and written about Manchester United this past summer. The Red Devils came off the back of last season finishing second in the league. This was an obvious improvement from their sixth-place finish in 2016-17. Despite having a poor transfer window this past summer, and speculation that Mourinho may meltdown in his third season at the club, here’s why Manchester United will finish inside the top four in 2018/19.
Why Manchester United Won’t Miss Out on The Top Four
The biggest reason why the Red Devils will remain one of the four best teams in England is the quality of their squad. United boast a plethora of highly talented players in key areas of the pitch.
For a start, their goalkeeper is David De Gea. He is the best in England and indisputably in the top three in the world. De Gea’s importance to this United side cannot be overstated. Last season, he prevented more goals for his side (judged by expected goals or xG) than any other goalkeeper in the league. He is a one-man defence at times and last season he won the Premier League Golden Glove award. And with Thibaut Courtois now at Real Madrid, it looks as though the Spaniard will be sticking around for a while longer.
Mourinho’s side has great depth in the midfield. United have every profile you’d want in the middle of the park. They have creators, destroyers, and box to box players. Also helping is the fact that Andreas Pereira looks to have secured a permanent slot in the squad. He was stellar as the number six in United’s first game of the season against Leicester City. The Brazilian had the most ball recoveries and interceptions of any player on either team. His emergence will come as a great relief to Nemanja Matic too. With Pereira excelling in his new role, this will allow the Serbian to rest more and prolong his career.
United have a wide array of attacking talent. Mourinho has a good blend of proven players like Lukaku and Sanchez mixed in with young talent like Rashford and Martial. United have everything they need in midfield and attack to secure a top-four finish. They are simply too talented not to. But as we have seen in the past in football, talent alone is not enough to succeed.
A common theme in Mourinho’s third season is the negativity surrounding a club. This was evident in his last stint at Chelsea in which he was fired, having left the team in 16th place. There is no such evidence of this at United though.
Unlike at Chelsea in 2015, United won their first game of the season against Leicester City. This gave the club a boost after a relatively poor transfer window. At Chelsea however, Mourinho drew his first game of 2015/16 2-2 with Swansea City. This saw the Blues’ Thibaut Courtois get sent off and Mourinho infamously berate his physio Eva Carneiro towards the end of the game. This left a sour feeling around the club, an awful way to start a season.
This hasn’t happened at United. Despite feeling frustrated at the lack of new signings, nothing else suggests Mourinho will enter an implosion this season. He has spoken very positively about his new captain, Paul Pogba. Just yesterday Mourinho said that he’s, “never been so happy with him [Pogba] as I am now, that’s the truth.” With these comments, Mourinho completely shut down any speculation that he may have a rift with the French superstar.
The feeling at Old Trafford is one of optimism more than it was a month ago, and this surely bodes well for the season ahead.
Aside from Manchester City, it is foolish to say any other Premier League side is definitively better than United. Having finished second last season, it is obvious that United have the ability to finish inside the top four again.
Liverpool have made key additions but there are still questions over whether they can remain consistent. Liverpool, under Klopp, have yet to score against Mourinho’s United from open play. Let’s see if they can do that this season. They also need to finish higher than the Red Devil’s before we can call them the second best side in England.
Chelsea won their first game of the season against Huddersfield in convincing fashion. However, Sarri’s system looks like it will take some time to get used to, and they haven’t got one proven goal scorer in their entire squad. Unlike Chelsea, Arsenal do have a proven goal scorer in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Unfortunately for Gunners fans though, much of the rest of their first team is simply not up to his standard or the standard required to enter the top four.
Spurs are a mix of Chelsea and Arsenal in the sense that they have a top goal scorer in Harry Kane and the supplementary parts around him to supply the Englishman with the ball. Spurs should finish in the top four given they have done so for the past three seasons, and due to the fact that their key players remain relatively young and are still improving.
Manchester United will finish inside the top four this season. There will be no third season meltdown from Mourinho. The squad the Red Devils possess is simply too talented not to finish inside the top four. And the competition they face is simply too weak to ensure that they don’t.