There is little time for the Premier League’s stars to shake off a World Cup hangover as less than a month on from Russia’s summer showpiece, the chase to catch champions Manchester City begins in earnest on Friday.
On top of the quick turnaround from the World Cup, a shortened transfer window that closes 24 hours before the season kicks off has left many sides scrambling at the last minute to strengthen their squads, none more so than Manchester United. The Red Devils raise the curtain on the campaign at home to Leicester on Friday night hoping to put a troubled pre-season dominated by manager Jose Mourinho’s outbursts behind them.
Mourinho has rounded on the club’s hierarchy for failing to sufficiently strengthen in his opinion despite the signings of Brazilian international midfielder Fred and Portuguese full-back Diogo Dalot. As United dither, Liverpool have emerged as second favourites for the title behind City after splashing over £170 million ($220 million) on goalkeeper Alisson and midfielders Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri. “The other clubs who compete with us are really strong and already have fantastic teams. Or they are investing massively like Liverpool, who are buying everything and everybody,” warned Mourinho.
“If we don’t make our team better it will be a difficult season for us.”
United are further hamstrung with a host of key players including Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford involved in the later stages of the World Cup limiting their pre-season preparations.