Jose Mourinho has a remarkable record of having won the league title in his second season at every club he has managed: Porto, Inter, Real Madrid and two different stints at Chelsea.
Perhaps that was why the Man Utd hierarchy did not seem to flustered when their new manager guided them to an underwhelming sixth placed finish last season. They will have understood the rebuilding job required following stagnation under Louis Van Gaal and earmarked 2017-18 as the season to reassert their traditional dominance in the Premiership. It is ferociously competitive this season, but Mourinho has got off to the perfect start.
Three wins, 10 goals scored and zero conceded leaves Man Utd top of the table, the only club to maintain a 100% record ahead of the international break. What will please Mourinho as much as the results – 4-0 wins over West Ham and Swansea and a 2-0 victory against Leicester – is the performances. Utd have looked extremely powerful, tough, quick and intelligent. They have barely given their opponents a sniff of a goal and they have attacked with ruthless precision.
On the evidence of the first three games of the season, you would have to say that Mourinho and Ed Woodward have played a blinder in the transfer market. Mourinho likes strong, tall, powerful teams that can grind out victories under intense pressure and Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof will aid him greatly in that cause. All three are well north of 6ft and Man Utd now have the tallest side out of all those that finished in the top six last season. That gives them potency on set pieces at both ends of the pitch, but it also makes them physically intimidating in the tunnel, landing a psychological blow before the game has even started.
It is telling that Thierry Henry compared the current Man Utd crop to Arsenal’s 2003-04 Invincibles side, a team with stupendous technical qualities but also real strength and height in the likes of Patrick Vieira, Sol Campbell, Martin Keown, Dennis Bergkamp and Henry himself. Henry’s old club were scrabbling around on deadline day, along with Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs, in last-ditch bids to overhaul their squads, and all were left disappointed in one way or another. Utd were just sitting back and watching it all unfold without needing to get involved, safe in the knowledge that they have a strong and deep squad. They may not exactly be the next Invincibles, but they blend strength and speed with technical intelligence and it is a similarly frightening prospect for their opponents.
Man Utd fans must be giddy with excitement. They have been on a downward spiral since Sir Alex Ferguson left four years ago, having just dragged them to the 2012-13 title by sheer force of will and Robin van Persie’s goals. Since then they have finished seventh, fourth, fifth and sixth, despite not having finished outside the top three since 1991 under Fergie. It has been a real fall from grace for the world’s biggest club, but it appears they are now back in business. Lukaku looks like the heir apparent to Didier Drogba, Paul Pogba has been given a new lease of life by the solid presence of Nemanja Matic alongside him and there is fantastic strength in depth, as evidenced by Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini all scoring after coming off the bench this season.
The odds of Man Utd winning the title have plummeted. They started the season at 7/2 third favourites, but that price has since shortened dramatically. There is still value to be had in backing Utd to win the title outright, however. Betcirca rates Sun Bets highly – as this Sun Bets Review shows – and that bookmaker is offering 2/1 on Man Utd lifting the Premiership trophy in May, which you can check here. That looks a great chance to treble your money, as their rivals all have problems. Chelsea struggled to land their main targets in the transfer window, Man City still have defensive issues and could not land Jonny Evans, Liverpool are also weak at the back, Tottenham are plagued by a Wembley hoodoo and the less said about Arsenal the better.
Yet it is worth remembering that it is still early days. Utd are yet to face one of the top sides, and they also failed to land a creative genius this summer. They drew too many games last season and could have done with a playmaker that can slice open defences with a killer through ball or cross. But they still look phenomenally strong and imposing, perfectly set up to win away against tricky teams like Stoke and Burnley. Their victories thus far have come against teams that finished in the bottom half of the table last season and West Ham in particular have been dreadful. But their last win, that 2-0 victory against Leicester, was telling because Foxes had looked dangerous and scored three times at The Emirates, but were kept ridiculously quiet by Man Utd. Mourinho was rightly delighted in the aftermath of that victory and can look forward with great optimism to the campaign ahead as he has a fantastic chance of keeping up his second season run of title victories.