The football season barely seemed to have a break this year. Whilst it is true the first week of August is quite an early start to proceedings, coverage has been more relentless than usual for an odd-numbered year. Perhaps it just feels that way because United have still not resolved their main issues.
Tomorrow lunchtime the men in red will march out in their expensive new Adidas shirts with several players bought on the back of the clothing-manufacturer’s money.
At the time of writing, United are unsure over their goalkeeper, short of strikers and a muddle in defence. The midfielders are still getting to know each other too. That’s a lot of departments to have question marks over and next week the club’s most important game for two years arrives in the Champions League qualifiers.
Tottenham have not managed their PR well in advance of the season opener. Their manager, Maurcio Pochettinno, has said they would prefer to have played later in the weekend because of their recent travelling. They have recently been in Germany for the pre-season Audi Cup where they were beaten 2-0 by Real Madrid. They too have bought a lot of players over the transfer window.
Arsene Wenger is on the record as saying it is optimal to only integrate a few players every transfer window. Too many and it disrupts the team too much and the side requires more time to settle. There is plenty of evidence to back up that theory.
In recent history, Liverpool were a disaster after spending their Luis Suarez money last year and Tottenham themselves were so poor in their post-Gareth Bale splurge that Andre Villas-Boas lost his job.
United have so far brought in Schneiderlein, Schweinsteiger, Darmian, Depay and Romero and still need more faces to complete the team. That is a lot of new blood and it would be remarkable if it all clicked immediately.
Looking back, I cannot think of a side that brought in more than six players at the start of a season and immediately hit the ground running. Chelsea’s Ambramovich spending spree started under Cladio Ranieri and they had to wait for Mourinho before the league was won. For Manchester City, they were on their third season of opulence before the title came their way.
Spending matters in football, but so does patience.
Chelsea under Mourinho have the feel that United did under Alex Ferguson. They are the team to beat and their biggest enemy is probably complacency.
When United play this weekend they will answer a lot of questions about how far along this team is in terms of coherence. Last year the opener against Swansea was chastening.
My suspicion is that United will chug along for the first ten games of this season much as they did during their long unbeaten sequence last year. Scraping results and playing unspectacularly. There is a heap of talent on the field, but has a team formed yet?
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