Cast your minds back a year. A lot has happened in the last 12 months, and the tedium of 2015/16 may well have wiped a lot of the memories put off most people’s minds. This time last year, though, Manchester United were being called laughable, a joke, failures in the transfer market by pundits everywhere. The times have changed emphatically and all of a sudden the club are no longer being laughed at but instead feared.
This is all sparked by a reminder of an article I wrote following the closure of the transfer period last September 1st. Anthony Martial had just been signed, and the fee was lamented by almost everyone with so much as a vested interest in football. David De Gea’s long drawn out saga with Real Madrid had ended in favour of his employers and in all six players had walked through the doors to ply their trade at Old Trafford. Yet it all wasn’t good enough. And it all ended on a source note, with few of Louis van Gaal’s signings making the impact we all hoped they would. What a difference a year makes.
The press were very wrong about Anthony Martial. He went on to really impress last season and prove he has a very bright future ahead of him, but that is the only bright light from last season’s dealings. This summer is very different, hardly a bad word can be said about the business Jose Mourinho has conducted in his debut season at the helm. Criticism was found in the fee for Paul Pogba, but the signing hasn’t been doubted by many outsides of Liverpool and Manchester City fans. It seems the penny has dropped amongst many that the price paid for a player means very little in today’s market (Pogba only costing 19% of the annual turnover at United for instance).
You can almost feel the disappointment in the air because of the potential massive success Mourinho has had in the window this summer. In Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Mkhitaryan he has signed the best players in their respective leagues last season (just ask their fellow players that voted as such). And in Eric Bailly United have a real prospect, a hard, no-nonsense defender that almost has smacks of Nemanja Vidic about him. To criticise the work the new manager has done would be to scrape the barrel through to the floor.
Gleefully I write this article now, where last season it was driven and inspired by anger and the desire for some potential ‘I told you so’ come May. It wasn’t to pan out that way, but I now have a renewed confidence in my optimism that everyone should adopt. Things haven’t been completely perfect so far, but nine points from a possible nine are as perfect as you can get on paper. Things have been reiterated throughout the build-up to the new season, and as such I won’t be doing a great deal of that as I finish up. But what I will say is this, the transformation in the last 12 months is staggering, from Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay United have gone and upgraded to Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. If that isn’t enough to make you feel excited then I don’t know what else will.