As part of a new feature ahead of the new season, flomufc.com shall look ahead and back upon each month of the football calendar from a purely Man United perspective.
FIVE games, one trophy, and nine premier league points are up for grabs for Manchester United this month. As part of the club’s pre-season schedule, Serie A side Sampdoria will provide the opposition in Dublin in the club’s final warm-up match of the season. As an aside, its great that the club arranged games in Oslo and Dublin after their American leg of the tour. The club does have a large following there. It is a fact that is often forgotten. As far as fitness levels and team chemsitry are concerned, Jose Mourinho will be delighted that he has another fixture with which he can integrate his latest signing, Nemanja Matic, before the really serious business starts a week today.
And then shall come Real Madrid. It might feel unusual that the club will be involved in a high stakes game at the very start of the season, but that is exactly United’s ‘other’ reward for European success last term. The UEFA Super Cup is apparently not quite categorized as a ‘major’ trophy because it is in effect a two team tournament competition and therefore falls short of the minimum number to equate as such but the winner next week in Macedonia will not give a hoot about the semantics of that definition.
It is impossible to downplay a Cup that you win especially if you have to win one of UEFA’s flagship competitions to merit a place in it. If the Community Shield is ‘half a trophy’, then the European Super Cup should count for a full one. For United in particular, it is a timely dose of the level that will be required in the Champions League. Should the club emerge victorious, Jose Mourinho’s trophy count at United, before a second season is underway will start to border amazingly ridiculous.
United and Real Madrid did face off in the States less than 10 days ago, but you feel this will be of more serous business to the two sides. The talk within the United camp among players and indeed the manager has been about building up to this game as opposed to the start of the domestic season the following weekend. We can be confident that they’ll be up for this one. The psychological bonus of beating Europe’s top team at the moment will do us no harm ahead of the new league season.
The first domestic ball to be kicked in anger shall be against West Ham, on day three of the new premier league season on the now familiar Sunday kickoff. Given that you cannot really confidently hand-pick an opponent in this league, a home opener is about as fortunate as you can get in the draw. This fixture last term was one of many in which United laboured to a frustrating draw that cost them another couple of points. It’s a good place to start to see if the club has cured that particular deficiency well before the transfer window closes.
The trip to Wales follows a week later: often a difficult one but it turned out to be one of the more comfortable ones last season. Coming on a weekend when some of our title rivals clash, this is an early opportunity to inch ahead and build early steam.
The month concludes with a home game against Leicester City. The ex Champions were the opposition on Old Trafford’s finest day last season. United’s efficiency in front of goal that Saturday lunchtime turned out to be the exception rather than the rule for the rest of the campaign.
On the whole, United cannot complain about the start they have been afforded in the league. The club have a cushioned start to allow for new players to find their feet and new ideas to bed in, well before more stern tests come along. If, however, the club is able to tap into its ‘abstract improvements’ during pre-season, the season could well start in the same fashion it ended, lifting a European trophy!