Home form vital if Devils are to mount title tilt

LONDON • Manchester United begin their bid to be genuine Premier League title contenders tomorrow, when they face West Ham knowing that an improvement in home form is vital.

Since Alex Ferguson retired after the 2013 title win, the Red Devils have not finished in the top three but some serious investment in new players gives manager Jose Mourinho, starting his second season at the club, the sense that things are coming together.

Those reasons for excitement include the arrival of striker Romelu Lukaku for £75 million (S$132 million) from Everton, Chelsea's Serbia midfielder Nemanja Matic (£40 million) and Sweden defender Victor Lindelof from Benfica (£30 million).

The trio give United a new spine to the team, though it remains to be seen if Lindelof, who has yet to get up to speed in pre-season, starts with Eric Bailly. Bailly will be returning to the starting line-up, having been banned for the midweek Super Cup loss against Real Madrid.

Mourinho reiterated at a pre-match conference yesterday his satisfaction with the club's transfer business this summer window, despite not achieving "100 per cent" of his targets.

"I am happy with the effort the club did," the 54-year-old Portuguese said.

"I am happy that the club managed to do 75 per cent of the work before the Premier League starts and, if until Aug 31 the remaining 25 per cent don't arrive, I will not moan. I will just go with everything. I have to try to win every match."

BUSY TRANSFER WINDOW

I am happy that the club managed to do 75 per cent of the work before the Premier League starts and, if until Aug 31 the remaining 25 per cent don't arrive, I will not moan.

JOSE MOURINHO, Manchester United manager, expressing his satisfaction with his new recruits.

If United are to be serious title contenders, being more clinical at Old Trafford should be a priority for Mourinho, starting with the home match against the Hammers.

Home form let down United last season with their 10 home draws - the highest in the league.

However, the United manager is confident that his team can improve on that, having had a good pre-season and are well prepared.

"I am really happy to start the Premier League this weekend because our pre-season was very complete in a way where we start playing against Major League Soccer teams and we end it playing against the best teams in Europe," he said.

"So I'm happy to start on Sunday, we are ready."

Lukaku will likely start up front, but Mourinho will have to decide on his attacking formation with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial both keen to start.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2017, with the headline 'Home form vital if Devils are to mount title tilt'. Print Edition | Subscribe