Have Manchester United done enough to challenge Manchester City for the title?
Manchester City romped to their first title under Josep Guardiola. The Citizens left everyone else in their wake.
Nearest challengers Manchester United finished nineteen points off the eventual champions. Jose Mourinho has ground aplenty to make up.
With that said, Red Devils fans would have been quietly confident about their chances in 2018/19; that's before the transfer market clicked into gear. The self-proclaimed Special One has had a rather abject summer. His squad with gaping holes everywhere.
If I were to tell you that United could well start the campaign with a back five completely made from the Sir Alex Ferguson era, you'd call me crazy. The fact is, that's a distinct possibility. At this point, Mourinho's transfer market issues run deep. There is still so much work to undertake a full two years into his tenure.
The Portuguese coach had signed nine players before this transfer window. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan have already moved on. Victor Lindelof struggled in his debut campaign, perhaps the Ice Man will improve, but there is no guarantee. Eric Bailly has spent vast chunks on the sidelines. That has to change, although the effects are already being felt. The success stories? Nemanja Matic, Romelu Lukaku for sure. Possibly Paul Pogba, too...
During this World Cup summer, three players have been added. Veteran Lee Grant is nothing more than a third-choice shot-stopper, while Diogo Dalot could turn into a superstar; although he's played just six competitive fixtures. He will miss the season's start through injury. Who knows when he'll be ready, particularly seemingly going without a full pre-season under his belt.
United's biggest splurge over the last few months? Fred, costing a mighty £53million from Shakhtar Donetsk. It's no secret that City wanted him too. He chose Red over Blue. A bold move at this point. Still, though, that's no guarantee that success will immediately follow. The 25-year-old obviously has something about him, but the step up from Ukrainian football to the English game isn't one to take lightly. He too has spent the summer nursing injury after a hefty tackle from Casemiro in pre-World Cup training.
At this point, with close to three weeks left in the transfer window, I'm just not sure what United are going to do next. If Mourinho doesn't fully trust Shaw, the Old Trafford club need a left-back. An experienced, Premier League proven centre-half is another must, as is an elite-level right-winger.
Stagnancy in the transfer market is a real problem at this point in time. It's so unlike the Manchester club to get left behind by their rivals in that regard. Heck, even West Ham United, Everton et al have had stronger transfer windows than the twenty-times English league winners. In Mourinho's third season at the helm, you expect better. It should be make or break.
Nevermind City blowing United completely away once again, take a look at Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp. They're a team on a massive upward spiral right now. Imagine the embarrassment if the two biggest rivals in Red Devils history finished above them while scooping a trophy or two. There may well be calls for a certain Portuguese master-tactician to lose his job.