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Vishakh’s latest “The Manchester Musings” column.
At the October international break, it is normally a good time to reflect back on clubs’ starts to the season, see where they are at, and a time to assess.
This is a look at Manchester United’s 2016/2017 season so far:
Premier League – 6th: 13 points (4W, 1D, 2L) and a +5 GD after 7 games
This is definitely below par – while the season got off to a rousing start with 9 points from the first 3 games, the second half has produced 4 points from 4 games.
Wins against Bournemouth, Southampton, and Hull had early predictions of title talk, but Mourinho’s side were ruthlessly exposed against Manchester City (the current leaders) – that form continued with a 3-1 loss at Watford.
If United had recovered to win against Stoke they would be sitting in 5th with 15 points, so it is hard to look at that as anything apart from 2 dropped points.
The next two fixtures (Liverpool and Chelsea) become absolutely crucial to Man United – 4+ points from those two would rekindle title talk, but anything less would mean Champions League qualification hopes are in real jeopardy.
Europa League – 3rd in Group A with 3 points (1W, 1L) and a 0 GD after 2 games
Again, United’s Europa League campaign is resoundingly average.
A loss away in Feyenoord continued the club’s woeful away record in Europe (stretching back to 2014), but a rather-forgettable 1-0 win at home vs Zorya means United are still in control of their destiny.
The way the group is also set up means that no one team has run away with it so far.
Going forward, important that United continues to win their home games to progress to the next stage.
You would also back the club to overturn their away record by at least picking up a point from the Fenerbahce/Zorya Luhansk trips, so qualification is still very much likely.
EFL Cup – Progressed to the next round, into the Round of 16 to play Man City
A pretty standard 3-1 victory away in Northampton saw United sail through to the next round…where they play their rivals who have already beaten them once this season.
The fans don’t really have any expectations with the EFL Cup (as opposed to the FA Cup for the past couple of seasons) but surely two early season losses to City (and Guardiola) would put pressure on Mourinho.
With many other big teams being drawn against each other (Chelsea vs West Ham, Liverpool vs Tottenham), the winner of the all-Manchester tie will really fancy themselves as favourites for lifting the cup come February time.
Summary – Slightly below par with room for improvement
If this was a report card, United would get a C so far.
However they definitely have the potential to make it an A – with a solid point haul from the next few Premier League games, progression in the Europa League with an away win, and beating Man City in the EFL Cup.
Written by Vishakh Chandrasekhar
Follow Vishakh on Twitter @VishC24
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