Concerns mounting at Old Trafford as Mourinho begins decisive season.
It’s a worrying time if you’re a Manchester United fan. A lack of any clear recruitment policy, turgid football and a manger who gets more morbid by the day; this season has the potential to go horribly wrong. Jose Mourinho, after a less-than-impressive pre-season, has become aggrieved at the lack of transfer activity happening upstairs at Old Trafford, and with Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal all significantly strengthening, the Red Devils could find themselves looking at a very long season indeed.
Their first assignment is a visit from Leicester City, who will be looking to start life without Mahrez in a positive fashion. The negativity surrounding the red half of Manchester is palpable, but that will swiftly be forgotten if they start the season with a bang.
I can see this one being an incredibly close game. Many of United’s stars such as Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard were involved in the latter stages of the World Cup, and their absence for most or all of pre-season will mean it is unlikely Mourinho will be able to field his full-strength team. The injury to Nemanja Matic, coupled with an unsettled defence will give Leicester fans plenty of hope.
The Foxes won’t have a full complement of players either, with Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire unlikely to be involved, while star signing James Maddison is a slight injury doubt. Both sides – Manchester United more so – will go into this opener undercooked, which makes it unpredictable.
We are backing a 0-0 at half-time. If there is going to be a telling moment of magic which snatches the win for either of these sides, we can’t see it happening early on. Manchester United have been seen as slow starters for a couple of years now, and their sluggish pre-season is likely to carry over into this match.
I’m not expecting this to be a classic. I’m certainly not expecting this disjointed United side to click their fingers to suddenly become a fluid and clinical team, which are attributes they’ve lacked this pre-season. However, Old Trafford has a funny way of conjuring late United goals out of nothing. You’ll get fantastic odds for Manchester United’s first goal to be scored between 81 minutes and full-time. If they haven’t scored by this time, the pressure will be cranked up on Leicester and with the quality United still have, may nick something.
As you’ve discovered by now, matches involving Mourinho are unlikely to be high-scoring affairs. For your final bet we’ve gone for a funky-yet-likely one: under 1.5 goals in the first-half, under 2.5 goals in the second half and either team to win.
There’s a possibility United will run riot, but we don’t think that’s going to happen, hence why all three of these bets are generally based around a lack of goals. If Mourinho wants to banish those third-season demons, a win on Friday would be a good place to start.