They’re back: Why Manchester United are genuine Premier League contenders

Under Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United had swagger, confidence and skill. Old Trafford was a fortress that teams dreaded visiting, and above all, major silverware was the norm every season.

All those things, though, got increasingly suppressed in the years that followed Fergie’s retirement, all thanks to David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal. Average performances became the norm, mediocrity was frequent, and the Theatre of Dreams became the Theatre of Draws.

Serial winner Jose Mourinho arrived at the club to work his title winning magic. His first season at United saw them become the most joked about club in the Premier League, but in other competitions, the Special One led his side to success.

Winning the Europa League last season was a sign of United’s progress under Mourinho. Sure it’s not a big competition by the Red Devils’ standards, but its promise of Champions League qualification made it a must-win piece of silverware with United unable to qualify for Europe’s elite club competition via the traditional top four route.

Glimpses of the Manchester United of old were evident last term, but at the same time, they were few and far between. This season, though, the Red Devils are back judging by how they’ve played in the first two games of the campaign.

I know, I know, the season has barely even begun, but the manner with which Mourinho and his men annihilated West Ham and Swansea drew parallels with Sir Alex Ferguson legendary side.

They oozed of confidence from the onset, dominated every area of the pitch and ultimately scored the goals that won the games.

One thing United lacked last season was the inability of their key men to deliver consistently last season, but as evidenced against the Hammers and the Swans, the Red Devils have put that issue behind them.

Swashbuckling attacking displays from the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and even Anthony Martial have given the entire Premier League the ability to believe in United’s title credentials in just 180 minutes of league football.

New signing Nemanja Matic has also been particularly impressive for Mourinho’s men thus far, making key contributions to United’s attack whilst cutting passing lanes and intercepting balls in the middle of the park.

The Serbia international recently came out to say that United are capable of handling the pressure that comes with a superb start to the season.

“In football, there’s always pressure, you can ask the players from Swansea, and they will also feel pressure because they have a lot of supporters who come to see them in every match,” said Matic.

“At Manchester United, it’s always special when you play for this club. There is always pressure, but we are ready to cope with that.”

The 29-year old isn’t the only player to have spoken positively about United recently, with Paul Pogba also admitting that the team is more confident and together than it was last season.

Confidence, composure, immense skill and depth; United have all the ingredients required to make this season a huge success. Their summer recruitment further bolsters my claim with Lukaku seemingly set to score 20+ goals this season and Matic poised to have a Kante-esque effect on the team.

As much as United have impressed going forward, they’ve also proven to be good defensively. Only five teams are yet to concede a goal this season, and the Red Devils sit proudly on that list.

It remains to be seen whether Manchester United will fall into another rut, or further strengthen their title claim, but judging by what we’ve seen thus far, the latter is the likeliest occurrence.

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