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Mourinho must target Premier League title after excellent transfer window

David Moyes and Louis van Gaal both failed to deliver at Manchester United, post Sir Alex Ferguson. Step forward, Jose Mourinho.

It's sure to be lively in Manchester this season, with Mourinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic going up against their nemesis, Pep Guardiola. Can Mourinho restore United to their former glories? Here's a look ahead to the 2016-17 campaign.

At a glance

This should be Manchester United's best season in years.

Quick predictions

Premier League: ​Champions
FA Cup: Quarterfinals
League Cup: Semifinal
Europa League: 

Transfer business

This is the best transfer window that United have ever had. In Ibrahimovic, United have brought in a player with bags of experience and ridiculously high expectations that his teammates should strive to meet. He should also do something to improve on United's awful goal tally from last season.

Paul Pogba is one of the best players in the world with the potential to get even better. He will likely finally solve the midfield problem United have suffered with for a decade and should provide the quality the team has been crying out for in this area of the pitch.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was the best player in Germany last season who, if he adjusts well to the Premier League, could be the creative force United desperately need. With quality attacking players to provide for, the Armenian should really enjoy himself in the season ahead.

Finally, Eric Bailly has the makings of a fantastic centre-half who, like Mkhitaryan, could be hugely influential if he adapts well from La Liga. His man of the match performance against Jamie Vardy in the Community Shield was a good indication of what he is capable of.

Even with these brilliant transfers, United are probably still short of an experienced central defender. Had Sergio Ramos signed last summer, United would boast one of the best sides they've ever had. As it is, relying on Bailly, Chris Smalling or Daley Blind all season could be dangerous, for differing reasons.

Jose Mourinho has shone in the transfer market. Now he needs to deliver the results on the pitch.

Key questions

Will Pogba be worth £89 million? It's hard to ever justify such a huge sum but if he plays as well as the supporters believe he can, and guides United to the league title, his transfer fee won't be much of an issue. The world-record transfer fee of £80m for Cristiano Ronaldo is regarded as a bargain these days and Pogba's transfer could potentially be viewed in the same way.

When will Mourinho give up on Wayne Rooney? The manager has been very supportive of the United captain, who is set to replace Sir Bobby Charlton's as the club's all-time highest goalscorer this season. Mourinho has insisted he will play as a No. 10. While Rooney still does have more than his fair share of fans inside Old Trafford, his inclusion means one of Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata, Mkhitaryan or even Ander Herrera miss out on a starting place. It's becoming more and more difficult to justify it.

Will United win the league? Manchester City probably still have the better squad and they have a manager who goes toe-to-toe with Mourinho. However, it's worth remembering the Blues only finished ahead of United on goal difference, despite Louis van Gaal doing an awful job.

City's most influential players of recent years are probably past their best now, or injury prone, which suggests Guardiola's job may be bigger than Mourinho's. City have spent marginally more than United this summer, despite the huge outlay for Pogba, so their season's depend on how well the new players adjust.

Potential pitfalls

Mourinho's most recent season at Chelsea showed just how badly wrong things can go. Having just won the league, they were fighting a relegation battle a few months later, with players seemingly unwilling or unable to play for the manager anymore. While you would imagine that won't be the case at United, given this is his first year and not his third, and this is the job he's always wanted, there is the possibility of everything unravelling.

United's defence is a concern as its success relies on Bailly making a seamless transition, or Phil Jones suddenly becoming good and not injury-prone. The former is more likely than the latter, based on his preseason showing, although United fans will be mindful they were singing the praises of Matteo Darmian at the beginning of last season, only for his form to dramatically decline.

Luke Shaw's return from injury could be crucial to Man United's season.

One to watch 

Luke Shaw started last season brilliantly and while it might appear strange, United's hopes of achieving much disappeared when he was injured against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League. It's not often that you would say a left-back has so much sway in the success of the team but, after a summer of hard work to make amends for his disappointing debut season, Shaw was absolutely brilliant.

Defensively, there was no faulting him, and offensively, he was a constant threat bombing down the wing. He picked up the season-ending injury after he burst into the box and was chopped down.

If Shaw can recreate that sort of form, or better it, we could be looking at the beginnings of United's left-back for the next decade.

An added bonus to Shaw having a good season is that it could bring the best out of best mate Memphis Depay who started well at United with Shaw playing on his flank. If that's wishful thinking, at least Martial should benefit from Shaw's return.

Scott is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow him on Twitter: @R_o_M.


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