Phil Neville has noted that Jose Mourinho will not expect anything less than a challenge for the title next season.
Mourinho’s men ended the 2016/17 season on a high by claiming the Europa League – their second piece of silverware of the campaign – and a spot in next season’s Champions League in the process.
Manchester United’s league form, however, was dramatically substandard, managing just 69 points and sixth spot – 24 points behind champions Chelsea.
And Neville, speaking on MUTV, has noted that the Portuguese will expect much more from his side next term.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I think it was a brilliant season last year and it finished well with the Europa League.
“Now we’re looking to see who Jose signs because, if you look at the top six clubs, I think they will all strengthen. United have to strengthen and it’ll be interesting to see which team strengthens the most.
“Now, every time I pick up a paper, another player is linked with United but I’m sure Jose will bring success, like he did last season, and ultimately, hopefully, bring the title back to Manchester.
“If you look at the drawn games at Old Trafford last season and convert maybe 90 per cent of those into wins, then United would have been challenging for the title. If they can do that this year, then I think the title will come back to Manchester.
“I’m optimistic. United are heading in the right direction and the confidence the manager and his squad got from winning the EFL Cup and Europa League can be taken into the Champions League and the league next year.
“It’s going to be a difficult season, as everyone else is spending money and improving. United are going to have to improve as well because they didn’t finish in the top four last season. Even that is a big ask, but I think Jose will want to win the Premier League. That’s the big one. He won’t settle for anything less.”
Now, just imagine for a second that miserable home draws against Stoke City, Burnley, Arsenal, West Ham United, Hull City, AFC Bournemouth, West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City had all been converted into wins, just like they all would have been with a bit of composure in front of goal.
That’s a whopping 16 points gained – or, in other words, enough to place them just one point behind second placed Tottenham Hotspur. 85 points – four more than what United needed to claim the title in 2011.
This is, of course, all strictly hypothetical. But it does point unequivocally towards the plague of United’s Premier League campaign under Mourinho and underlines in emphatic and clear terms where the Portuguese needs to look as he gears up for his second season in charge at Old Trafford.