United In Focus’ contributors have given their predictions ahead of Manchester United’s 2017/18 season.
Editor Dan Burdett, Social Media manager Dave Murphy, player liaison and columnist Michael Garvey, podcaster and columnist Nipun Chopra, and author Wayne Barton have given their thoughts on how United will do.
How will United fare in all competitions?
DB : Premier League – 1st (or 2nd) hopefully. Our best chance of challenging for the title since Sir Alex retired. We’re definitely heading back in the right direction again. To be able to watch more exciting and attacking football again would be the biggest positive of the new season. FA Cup and League Cup – we should hopefully get to the later stages of at least one of these competitions or even a Final, as Mourinho makes full use of his squad rotation. Champions League – would definitely expect us to at least reach the knockout stages in this, especially with Mourinho’s experience in the competition. No Europa League again after Christmas please. From there, it would depend on who we drew in the Champions League and good/bad luck with injuries and refereeing decisions.
DM : After the Matic signing I think we can at least challenge for the title. This type of signing frees up a couple of our midfielders and kicks in motion Pogba. I see it with France when Kante plays that holding role. Champions League will be difficult but I expect at least knockout stages.
NC : I expect United to challenge for the title this year. It was my expectation at the start of last season as well, but, arguably, given Mourinho tends to have a successful second season, we are poised for a special year. I would expect us to be in 1st/2nd in the league and get to maybe the semifinal stage of the Champions league.
MG: Premier League – Top four minimum, no excuses this year. If we’re there or thereabouts going into New Year then possibly a title push, too early to say. FA Cup – Winners, not sure whether this team has enough in the tank to be title winners but should be looking to challenge for at least one domestic honour. League Cup or whatever they call it these days – Semi-finals, play the kids or give minutes to fringe players. Champions League – Quarter Finals, first season back will show glimpses of promise, but not enough to compete with the big boys, yet.
WB: You have to think there’ll be progression in how we play. If I had a concern last season it was to do with how we surrendered our league form in the last few games… I wasn’t too bothered with how we played, because we started the season well, and I think you sort of know what to expect with Mourinho as the season wears on.
At the start of last season I thought that with the money invested we should have been challenging for the title but maybe I underestimated the damage done under Louis van Gaal’s reign. Or maybe I overestimated the rebuilding job he’d done after Moyes. Either way I do think it’s realistic to expect a title challenge this time around as Jose has had three transfer windows and it looks like he has been given every one of his targets. Whether or not we’ll succeed? City have spent so much money on top of a first team that basically has £50m players for every position so I don’t think it’s a disgrace if we finish 2nd, I do think that 2nd is the least we should expect.
I’m not sure what to expect in the Champions League so I won’t make any predictions only because I think it’s impossible to tell just where we are with that, but, I would like us to win a domestic cup. I’d prefer it to be the FA Cup but I do think we’ll win the League Cup.
If it’s just a League Cup then it will look like a bad season even if there’s progress on all other fronts. The optimistic supporter in me says every team has to play 38 games and they can only play 11 players so City’s advantage will not quite seem as dominant as it should be because football has a funny way. If I can be optimistic and hope we’ll win the league and not predict that we will, then, it would be a good season for Jose, but anything less than progression from this season would have to be viewed as a disappointment.
MG: Lukaku, when you pay £75m for a striker you have to hope to hope he’ll bag 20-25 goals. If Rashford and Martial can get 15 each we should be doing alright.
WB: Not to dismiss Rashford or Martial but Romelu Lukaku will lead the line and even if he doesn’t score 30 goals he will still likely be our top scorer even by virtue of the simple fact he’ll be first choice.
DM : Lukaku
DB : Lukaku
Player Of The Year
MG :Pogba, really think we’ll see the best of him this season. Signing of Matic should anchor him in midfield and allow him to push forward and be more of a goal theat.
Major competition winners (if not United)
DM: Don’t care as long as it’s not the scousers.
DB: Domestic, if not us Man City or Chelsea. Champions League – the usual teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich.
MG: PL – Too hard to say, either United, Chelsea or City. FA Cup – United. League Cup – Chelsea. Champions League – Real Madrid/Bayern Munich.
WB: City (if not United) for the League, Chelsea for the FA Cup, Man Utd for the League Cup, Real Madrid for the Champions League.
NC: PSG for UCL (if they sign Neymar). Liverpool for FA Cup.