PREVIEW: United v Leicester City

The new Premier League season is almost upon us and Manchester United begin their campaign against Leicester City tonight at Old Trafford. 

Following an underwhelming pre-season tour of the United States, and a disastrous conclusion to the transfer window; there is a gloomy outlook regarding the chances of United this season. 

Hopefully, from a United point of view anyway, we see a positive start to the season and we see Fred make his first competitive appearance in a red shirt.

This week, I spoke to Barney Chilton, the editor of Red News, and Dale O’Donnell, the editor of Stretty News to preview the opening game of the 2018/19 Premier League season. 

 1. Hi fellas. What are your feelings on the new campaign?   

Barney: Hi Jimmy. Despite a quite surreal tour, with Mourinho doing his Morrisey act for two weeks, I am looking forward to it; but I am clearly in a minority. I am looking forward to catching up with mates, going to games, the travelling, the beers, and the stories as much as the football. Expectations are low given how the transfer window concluded; maybe it’s a good starting point; anything could be a bonus! I still think we have a better squad than is made out, they need to prove it and Jose needs to channel his emotions into getting them going. 

 Dale: Hello Jimmy. Being honest; sheer pessimism. The summer has shown our club up BIG TIME. If anyone feels confident, I’d recommend having their head checked.  

 2. What is your view on Mourinho’s demeanour in the press?  

 Barney: I don’t care what it is in the press but it’s currently his demeanour full stop. He feels that the world is against him; he has been battling the board for our own money, we needed them to do more! He clearly feels let down but also, he needn’t hang the squad out to dry. This is the squad, and he needs to get them motivated to prove everybody wrong. Having said that, clearly something at the top of the club is off with their repeated handling of transfers. 

 Dale: It annoyed me when he slated the youngsters and said the team he previously played didn’t consist completely of his players. Mourinho is the manager of Manchester United, therefore, every Manchester United player ought to be considered his player. That said, his piss poor demeanour comes as a result of not being backed by the board. I don’t blame him for that because Ed Woodward and The Glazers have made this a very difficult environment to work. The next manager will have to put up with the same shit, which should make the job less appealing to top coaches, who want to win; not balance books for the cancer that runs our club.  

 3. Who do you think are Leicester’s main threats that we need to be wary off? 

 Barney: I think Vardy is due a good season again, and I think they will feel bolstered by Jose’s negativity. We need a win that’s for sure. It’s a tricky opener, first game, the attention is on us and Jose; but what better incentive? We have to use the negativity and channel it. 

 4. Who are you hoping to see have a big season from a Utd point of view? 

 Barney: Paul Pogba. It is clear there are issues between Pogba and Mourinho, but it’s the role of the manager to deal with that. It could go either way, a player who wins the World Cup who thinks the side should be built around him – and I think we should utilize his strengths better – and a manager wanting him to graft to prove it wasn’t an exception. I’m hopeful Sanchez will show his true worth, and I think Lukaku will get better. However, we need the midfield to get it all going, and Fred has gone under the radar so let’s hope he’s the missing ingredient. In addition, we need our full backs to be better going forward and the team needs to be better in terms of passing; it has to be quicker, more incisive, faster, and more one touch footballThe play last season was too methodical last season. 

 Dale: Alexis Sanchez looked shit hot on tour. It was his first full pre-season tour with the   club and I think that will make a huge difference to him this season. Signing for a club in   January is difficult, especially when you are expected to hit the ground running       immediately. He will make a lot of people eat their words in the coming months after a   sublime tour of the US (Andreas Pereira and Alexis were the only players to show up). 

  5There were no new arrivals on deadline day. Is the current squad good enough to challenge for the title? 

 Barney: I think we needed more creativity, but clearly Jose saw the defence as the starting   point to how we play. We missed a trick with Perisic last year and I think we will rue that   again; unless Juan Mata finally shows his form from his time at Chelsea. 

 Dale: No. We finished 19 points off City last season. It will take a lot of work to catch City   and I no longer think Mourinho will get the chance to do it. 

 6. How much of a loss is Mahrez to Leicester? 

 Barney: From a distance, huge. Those goals from set plays were points alone. In spite   of that, teams recover so it’ll be interesting to see how they use the money. 

 Dale: Funnily enough, I don’t think Mahrez was a signing City needed. They did it because they could, and I remain unsure he will be an improvement on what they’ve already got in the squad. As for Leicester, of course, they will miss him, yet he’s never replicated the form of their triumphant 2015/16 campaign. 

7. What is your score prediction for the game? 

Barney: You have to be optimistic before the battle begins, so let the doom stay at the door, for now at least. I’m going with 2-1 to United; a last-minute winner from Fellainias Jose embraces him with smiles and kisses! 

Dale: 2-2. I think we’re a bit weak at the back and the midfield looks light due to absentees. 


(Photo by Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)


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