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Manchester United may have hogged all the headlines in the summer after spending £145 million in transfers- including the record breaking £89 million acquisition of Paul Pogba from Juventus- but the Red Devils are under thorough scrutiny from the media over their current form, more so in the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho may not be getting hot under the collar just yet, but the Portuguese manager has registered mixed results during the first three months of the season.
In that regard, here are five things we’ve learnt from United’s start thus far into the 2016/17 season.
Can’t win, won’t win the Premier League
Much fancied title contenders at the start of the season, Mourinho’s charges currently lie eighth in the standings with 15 points after 10 games, eight points adrift of leaders and local rivals Manchester City.
Closing down the 8-point gap with 28 games to go is a challenge worth embracing, but it becomes a monumental task when the top five teams are separated by just three points.
From the look of it, Man United are still a work in progress, unfortunately incapable of winning the Premier League title this season.
Champions League qualification a nightmare
The Champions League is Europe’s most prestigious competition, graced by some of the richest and most accomplished football clubs in the world.
Prior to the 2013/14 season, Manchester United had won the European title thrice, staging an appearance for a greater part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s stay at the club.
After missing out on the competition twice in the last three years however, United yet again find themselves in a precarious position in the Premier League.
The Old Trafford outfit is already four places below the last Champions League spot after a poor run of form in the Premier League.
With City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs all entwined in the catfight, it’s becoming increasingly hard to envisage United bulldozing their way through.
Although it may be hard, it’s certainly not impossible.
Europa League not as easy
For all their tribulations in the domestic League, United have not had a field day in the Europa League either.
Tied on 6 points with Feyenoord midway through the group stage fixtures, the Red Devils are in second place due to an inferior one-on-one record against the Dutch side.
Given that there are still 48 teams in the competition, what are the odds of Manchester United winning the title? Do keep in mind that they are yet to secure qualification into the last 24.
Possible League Cup triumph
Jose Mourinho got even with Pep Guardiola after United knocked out City from the EFL Cup courtesy of a solitary goal from Juan Mata last Wednesday.
The win sees them through to the quarterfinals where they will lock horns with West Ham who edged off Chelsea in a nasty London derby.
Going by his previous record at Chelsea, the history books point at a possible Jose Mourinho triumph in the EFL Cup: this time in the red and black of Manchester.
There is plenty of talk about United’s present crisis, but little has been said about their untapped potential.
Pogba’s individual brilliance has been waylaid by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s misfiring; Henrikh Mkhitaryan has yet to be unleashed while Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have yet to find their goal scoring form.
For improved results in the coming months, the United manager needs to find a formation that will suite the plethora of talent at his disposal.
Written by Brian Humphrey
Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum
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