Jose Mourinho believes that Manchester United have what it takes to win the Premier League this season ahead of their opening clash with West Ham United on Sunday.
United’s first campaign under the Portuguese’s tutelage saw them slump to sixth spot – 24 points behind champions Chelsea – following a combination of numerous injuries, an inability to take chances against lesser sides at home and, by April, a greater focus on winning the Europa League.
The Portuguese revealed during a press conference on Friday that he still expects the board to deliver a winger before the window shuts on August 31 but noted he wouldn’t cry if nobody else came in. He made three promising additions in Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic so far this summer and continues to pursue the likes of Danny Rose, Sergi Roberto, Serge Aurier and Ivan Perisic.
And Mourinho, with the new Premier League season beckoning, believes that the current group of players at his disposal can compete for top spot over the next nine months.
“What it means for me to be the Premier League champion? I think it’s the objective of every one of the top teams and every one of the top team managers,” he said.
“Yes, we can (win the title), Europa League is not Champions League, obviously it is more difficult to win the Champions League than the Europa League but also motivation is higher, also my hard work last season to motivate the Europa League with ambition and commitment and responsibility, my work was hard at that level.
“This season, in relation to the Champions League, it is not hard to motivate them against the top teams, I don’t need to work at that level, so the motivation is more than enough.
“And the Premier League is what you all know, I would say seven teams to fight for the title and 20 teams to fight every week for every match, different than any of the other leagues. I worked in three other leagues apart from the English one and every opponent gives you a hard time but we are involved in four competitions.”
The last two seasons have emphatically taught us that, above anything, predicting the outcome of a bombastic, relentlessly intense 38 game marathon is pointless.
But United supporters have reasons to be hopeful. Their side dragged themselves, bloody and fatigued, through a 64 game season and came out with two major trophies. There may be better squads in the Premier League but nobody rivals Mourinho’s men when it comes to collective spirit – an inexplicable capacity to pull themselves over the line, annoying everybody else in the process.
And now, with Matic at the base of midfield and Lukaku already claiming goals in a red shirt, they are stronger, more settled, and perhaps capable of doing something special this year.