Thursday, January 19, 2017

Manchester United showing signs of improvement

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 15 Dec 2016

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Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is scoring goals again for Manchester United

Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is scoring goals again for Manchester United

Many questions have been asked about Manchester United this season. Most of those questions have been about Jose Mourinho’s managerial ability, Zlatan Ibrahimovic age and Paul Pogba’s value.

However, it seems that the Red Devils fortunes have taken a turn for the better in recent games.

Consecutive wins, coupled with improved performances of late have been cause for optimism for United fans.

Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Crystal Palace was a sign that the old United may be on its way back, as Ibrahimovic grabbed an 88th-minute winner for Mourinho’s side. Late goals were always synonymous with Sir Alex Ferguson’s great United teams.

High-profile stars shining again

It was inevitable that high-profile stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba would be the focus of attention if the Red Devils didn’t shine this season. The men from Manchester have not been outstanding this term, but their performances have improved majorly of late.

Pogba and Ibrahimovic were highly influential in the win at Selhurst Park. Pogba scored the Red Devils first goal and also created the winner for Ibrahimovic. It was the sort of contribution that the French midfielder was signed to make.

On his day marauding at opposition defences, there are very few other players in his position that is more dangerous than the former-Juventus man.

Ibrahimovic started the campaign on fire but then struggled for goals. It seems he now has his mojo back. In his last six top-flight appearances, the Swedish star has scored five times and produced one assist.

All five of those goals have been crucial in winning the Red Devils points. The veteran striker is defying his age at the moment. Ibrahimovic’s fitness and form could be vital to the success of United this season.

A real blow losing Eric Bailly

Manchester United needed to strengthen their defence in the summer. Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho decided to bring Ivory Coast international Eric Bailly from Villarreal for a reported fee of £30million.

The 22-year-old was unknown to many Premier League fans. However, he had impressed for the Yellow Submarine in La Liga. The move was a slight gamble, but it looks to have paid off.

Bailly has made a very solid start to his United career. However, the game at Palace was his first in two months following a knee injury picked up in United’s 4-0 defeat by Chelsea. Unfortunately, the youngster picked up an injury on his other knee against Palace.

He played through the pain barrier at right-back for United for 75 minutes. However, United boss Mourinho stated after the clash that they were waiting to see the results of tests on the knee to see how long the defender will be sidelined.

It is a big shame because Bailly seems to have potential and attributes to become a very good Premier League centre-back in the future. He is big, strong and has pace, which makes him the perfect centre-back for the Premier League.

United look like top-four contenders

There is still a good while to go in the Premier League campaign. However, it still looks highly unlikely that Manchester United will challenge for the title. However, the Red Devils are now playing more like realistic contenders for a top-four place than they were at stages earlier in the campaign.

Jose Mourinho’s team are odds of 6/4 to claim a Champions League spot this season. The five teams above them in the table are currently shorter odds to make Europe’s elite competition.

United may have started out as one of the favourites to win the Premier League title, but that would have been difficult for Mourinho to achieve in his first season at Old Trafford.

The next best thing for United would be to finish in the top four this season. It may not have been the team’s main objective for the campaign. However, it would be a decent foundation for the development of the team for the future, especially if the performances continue to improve.

Will Manchester United finish in the top-four this season?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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