Former Manchester United full-back Gary Neville has urged supporters to reserve their optimism following a superb start to the season from Jose Mourinho’s side, noting that bigger tests lie around the corner.
United have enjoyed a scintillating start to their 2017/18 campaign, claiming wins over West Ham United, Swansea City, Leicester and Everton, alongside brushing aside FC Basel in the Champions League. They have been effervescent going forward. Mourinho’s men only managed 54 Premier League goals last season and they have already claimed 16 – almost 30 per cent of last year’s total – after just five games, averaging three goals per outing. Moreover, while Romelu Lukaku has dominated the scoring charts with five Premier League goals, no other team in the Premier League has a biggest diversity of goalscorers, with seven players in total – Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly, Antonio Valencia and Marouane Fellaini – on target so far.
And they sit joint top of the table with Manchester City, perhaps establishing a tantalising precursor for a title race similar to that of the 2011/12 season. Pep Guardiola’s side have been imperious, scoring 11 goals in their last two games against Liverpool and Watford whilst also dispatching Dutch champions Feyenoord 4-0 in the Champions League.
Both sides are neck and neck, showing signs of clicking into gear, but Neville, reflecting on how the Manchester clubs have fared so far, was quick to note in his column for Sky Sports that neither side has been truly tested yet this season.
“I did say at the start of the season that the title would end up in Manchester and the evidence so far supports that, but it’s far too early for either club to get carried away.”
“You would have said, from the fixtures, United should have been at the top at this stage, but I think the table will start to even out once we see them against tougher sides.
“There are still big questions about both United and City. Can United break down sides? Can Manchester City handle it against more physical sides?
“If you look at United, you saw them make mistakes at Stoke and there were chances for Everton, but ultimately the weaknesses they have shown at the back are covered by a goalkeeper in David de Gea who is absolutely world-class.”