Manchester United thrashed Leeds United 5-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday to start the season with a bang.
And if the match had a familiar feel, it is because there were a few striking similarities with the first game of the 2006/07 season.
Back in August 2006, United came out of the blocks similarly fast, and beat Fulham 5-1.
It was the last time United won the opening game of the season 5-1 up until now. That season Sir Alex Ferguson’s side went on to win the league.
The scoreline alone is not where the similarities end, with circumstances leading into the game familiar.
Players with a point to prove
When United began the season in 2006, the country was coming off an international tournament disappointment at the World Cup. Cristiano Ronaldo was public enemy number one in the media, and there were questions whether he could co-exist with Wayne Rooney.
United produced an emphatic response. Louis Saha scored an early opener before an own goal, and then strikes from Ronaldo and Rooney put United 4-0 up after just 19 minutes.
Rooney grabbed another in the second half and United just clicked that day, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a second half substitute.
The 2005/06 season was a mixed bag. United fell at the Champions League group stage for the first time under Sir Alex Ferguson. The team finished second in the Premier League, eight points behind a seemingly unstoppable Chelsea.
This time around, United entered the season knowing there was work to do. Second place last season was creditable but not good enough.
An international near-miss for England also provided the backdrop to the summer, and Leeds’ fans’ pathetic taunting towards Jadon Sancho for missing a penalty showed there will be a bit of agitation for United’s players to deal with.
Players like Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba came into the season ready to seize the moment, like Ronaldo and Rooney back in 2006.
The 5-1 win back then was a statement of intent, and United matched that today.
United went on to win a first Premier League title in four years in ’07 after a rare drought under Sir Alex Ferguson.
It has been even longer for United since the great man retired, and this team seem better equipped than any before them to end the wait.
Convincing wins for Chelsea and Liverpool yesterday showed this season will be highly competitive, while City kick off later today. United did their part, and at the least, the 5-1 comparison is a positive omen.
This team is capable of achieving great things, and while there are 37 league games remaining, it looks like this season could be a fun ride.
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