Gary Neville has demanded that Manchester United keep the high expectations that he helped create and maintain at the club, arguing that:
“You can’t just drop your expectations because they haven’t won it for a couple of years. They have to win the league. Jose Mourinho has to win the league here.”
Manchester United have not won the Premier League since the 2012/13 season. In fact, the club have not finished in the top three in the league since that title victory. That is in stark contrast to the form that they showed in the Premier League prior to 2014, finishing in the top three for 11 consecutive seasons. It has been argued that the team was in transition in recent years, as the team has had four managers in four seasons; all with different visions for the team and opinions on personnel. Now, however, the former United defender believes Manchester United and their manager, Jose Mourinho, don’t have any more excuses, stating:
“The money that’s been spent, his own personal expectations and what he’s always delivered has been titles, so I would say United have to approach this season to win the league. I don’t think its good enough to say ‘they’re going to get back into fourth.’ That isn’t an ambition when you’ve spent the money that’s been spent and amassed the players that Mourinho has now amassed.”
Neville is impressed by the business United have done in the transfer window and believes that now have all the attributes required to mount a title challenge.
“I have never seen this league won without power and pace and a really strong spine, and it looks like United have got that. They look like they are going to mount a challenge. It’s day one, but they look like they have the attributes to mount a challenge for the title because they seem like they have everything.”
This is in reference to the strong performances of Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku who are two tall, strong players with years of Premier League experience. They are known quantities who have hit the ground running and allowed Manchester United to get off to a great start, with Matic winning the Man of the Match award and Lukaku scoring the two opening goals in the home win over West Ham. United with these two high-profile acquisitions United were able to steal a march on reigning Premier League Champions Chelsea, this fact was not lost on Gary Neville.
“You cannot believe Chelsea have given Mourinho a piece of the jigsaw in Matic, I can’t think of one reason why Chelsea sold him. United beat Chelsea to Lukaku and then Chelsea have handed them Matic. They look like the type of players that were needed to correct what was wrong last season, and Chelsea have helped them and had a big influence on that.”
With the out goings, injuries and suspensions that the champions are currently struggling with, United are expected to be among the teams to capitalise. Local rivals Manchester City have spent over £200m in the summer in rebuilding their team and have experienced a huge amount of player turnover. It remains to be seen how their new personnel will settle and there are still question marks over the quality of the defensive unit at the club. In direct contrast to City, last season’s runners-up, Tottenham Hotspur have only had a single player leave and are yet to make any signings. This will give them great continuity but there have been question marks over their depth.
The North London side struggled while competing on multiple fronts last season and saw a dramatic uptick in form once they were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League. United have the strength-in-depth to compete on multiple fronts this season and if their opening weekend performance is a sign of things to come, they have the firepower to take advantage of their competitors’ shortcomings this season.