As the dust settles over Russia, attention is already turning to the new Premier League season, which is only a few short weeks away. Manchester City’s dominance is one that is widely predicted to continue, but if any team can bring it to an end, it is United. Here, we take a look at why even the non-partisan Premier League fans should take the United challenge seriously for the campaign ahead.

Jose Mourinho’s moment to shine
Next week, the traditional season opener of the Community Shield will take place. It will only be the fifth time in the last 12 years that this match has not featured United as either the Premier League or FA Cup winner. Yet in both formats, United was in with a shout, being the losing finalist in the FA Cup and the second placed team in the Premier League.

It is this consistency that can carry them to the next level in the coming season. For any other team, the performance of the last two years under Jose Mourinho would have appeared successful, particularly after the indifferent seasons under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.

In his first season, he took the team to the quarter finals of the FA Cup, the best run since the Alex Ferguson days, as well as seeing them victorious in the League Cup and UEFA Cup. Last year, United was the only team to hang on to City’s all-conquering shirt tails, and pushed Chelsea all the way in the FA Cup final.

Mourinho has a point to prove, and his third season will be the moment to do so. He has a stellar record, having brought success to every team he has managed. He also has form when it comes to winning against the odds. In the 2011/12 season, his Real Madrid team were seen as rank outsiders in La Liga against the mighty Barcelona. Yet they not only killed the giants, but in doing so, they forced Barcelona’s all-conquering manager to hand in his resignation. That was a certain Pep Guardiola.

Extra pressure on the opening match
City and Chelsea might have a chance to take an early look at each other in the Community Shield, but for United, the real action starts on 10 August against Leicester City. Few season openers will attract so much attention and media coverage, for a whole host of reasons.

For one thing, we all know that Leicester is a team that can upset anyone. While United might be odds on favourites with the bookmakers, it is games like these in which the team has developed an unhealthy habit of tripping up. Last year, they showed they could beat any of the top teams – even Manchester City, handing them their first home defeat in 18 months earlier this year – but then went on to lose games against more modest opponents.

For another, this is a game that will mean even more to United due to one special spectator. Sir Alex Ferguson has said he plans to be in attendance in what will be his first significant public appearance since the brain haemorrhage that doctors fully expected to cost him his life. It’s going to be a game worth attending, and with tickets available online from, it is one that no true United fan can afford to miss.

The right personnel in their prime
It’s well and good to talk about the form and knowledge of the manager, but it is out in the middle that the Premier League will be won or lost. City might have a proven attack and a formidable midfield, but United has a unit that is hitting its peak at just the right time.

Sanchez looks to be putting his personal problems behind him and has been given the green light to join the team in pre season training. Pogba, Lingard and Matic are a match for anyone in the middle. Yet the most important figure of all might be right at the back.

David De Gea will want to put the horrors of Russia 2018 behind him. Those penalties that put the host through will still be haunting him, and there was also the howler that allowed Ronaldo to score in the group match against Portugal. That might not sound like ideal preparation for the Premier League campaign, but there is nothing more dangerous in professional sport than a man with a point to prove.

Midfielder Ander Herrera is in no doubt, and recently described De Gea as the best goalkeeper he’s ever seen. That is a bold claim, but Herrera is certain the 27 year old is just entering his prime. He predicts De Gea will show that he is the best in the world, and that this, in itself, will be worth at least 10 points by the end of the season. Given United’s progress over the past two years, a boost like that could be more than enough to take them to the top.

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