The Premier League season is about to burst back into life, and here Zapsportz.com co-owner and resident columnist Glenn Hoddle gives his pre-season predictions.
The former England, Chelsea and Spurs manager– and Mail on Sunday correspondent – gives his run down on Manchester United…and reckons they are in with a BIG chance!
Nemanja Matic (6ft 4in), Romelu Lukaku (6ft 3in) and Victor Lindelof ( 6ft 1in) will give United a massive height advantage in all areas of the pitch. That could be crucial.
It might not be what Manchester United fans are used to, a step away from panache and flair, but the team will be more dynamic.
Jose Mourinho is continuing to develop his squad and build something special – and improve on last season’s disappointing league position.
It looks almost like a machine, a team of strong, physical, battle-hardened players to get him through the winter. And that may be enough to get United back in the game to challenge for the title.
To be clear, the United teams under Sir Alex Ferguson were never soft touches. They too had fighters, like Eric Cantona, Mark Hughes, Roy Keane and Paul Ince. But in essence they were built on exciting wingers, flying forwards and great skill.
Glenn says: “What Mourinho is constructing is subtly different, something more like his first Chelsea team of 2004-05. Then he had Petr Cech, Ricardo Carvalho, Frank Lampard, Claude Makelele, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Didier Drogba down the spine of his team.
“It looks as though Mourinho has assessed what United need and has returned to the same formula. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata may get the role of creators. Marcus Rashford will provide some speed, as well as Anthony Martial, if he can revive himself under Mourinho. The fact that he is 6ft may give him a chance to do so.
“But essentially this is a powerful team of giants predominantly over 6ft tall: David De Gea, Eric Bailly, Lindelof, Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick, Martial and Lukaku. There are some good technical players in there too and Mourinho will argue it is an evolution of the Ferguson era.”