Gary Neville has outlined three reasons why Manchester United can be confident of challenging for the title this season.
Jose Mourinho’s men have made an emphatic start to their Premier League campaign, claiming 16 goals in five games – almost 30 per cent of last season’s total already.
Man United, in turn, sit joint top of the table with Manchester City after both sides recorded heavy wins over Everton and Watford respectively last weekend.
And Neville, writing in a column for Sky Sports, was quick to identify three aspects of Mourinho’s set-up that could precipitate a meaningful title challenge.
“Jose Mourinho has always been a good manager at home and he is happy to sit in and let teams expose themselves, and United’s record at Old Trafford is now no defeats in 12 months since City won there,” he said.
“To me they are looking a lot better than before in terms of breaking sides down and killing off games.
“There’s a really exciting battle going on between Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial for that left-side striker role and every time we see the team sheet the fans are asking why the other isn’t starting.
“The interesting thing is that one seems to be profiting from the other’s work, with Martial scoring again after coming on for Rashford.”
The most important point Neville has made here is United’s home form: they only lost once at home last season but it felt like anything other than a fortress.
By the new year, with miserable draws against Stoke City, Arsenal, Burnley and West Ham United lingering in the minds of supporters, Old Trafford was a cesspit of anxiety and gloomy foreboding. You can never establish a title challenge without a strong home record. That much is self evident.
And Mourinho’s men have launched the perfect response, romping to 4-0 wins over West Ham United and Everton whilst dispatching Leciester 2-0. David de Gea hasn’t conceded a goal at Old Trafford since April and, as Neville notes, haven’t lost at home in over a year. This is the kind of record a title challenging side needs to have.