Friday night could well be indicative of how long the Jose Mourinho project has to run at Manchester United. With the majority of clubs – though not United – voting to end the Premier League transfer window early to avoid the disruption that it brings to players, Mourinho has, at the time of writing, signed three players, with only Fred likely to be a regular starter this term.
It is because of this that the Portuguese has looked miserable throughout pre-season, with a proper title fight with Manchester City looking unlikely unless he can get his team out of their current quagmire, and quickly. With the Red Devils opening the new Premier League season against Leicester City, anything but a win would risk their campaign rapidly unravelling in the manner that Chelsea’s did in 2015/16 – Mourinho was sacked by December.
Another cause of the manager’s ire has seemingly been the lack of time hat he has had with the bulk of his squad due to their World Cup exertions. It is unlikely that Romelu Lukaku will be fit enough to start at Old Trafford, while Paul Pogba has only just returned to training and will be fortunate to make the bench.
Leicester, meanwhile, certainly have the potential to be tricky opening opponents. The 2015/16 champions have once again strengthened significantly, with former United defender Jonny Evans among the acquisitions. James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira, from Norwich City and Porto respectively, offer unpredictability in attack and could be key to avoiding defeat here, as well as ultimately finishing higher than last season’s ninth.
Claude Puel has masterminded some impressive results in pre-season, drawing with Valencia and beating Lille, and a strong defensive performance will be required at Old Trafford, particularly with Alexis Sanchez looking sharp after a summer of rest. Regardless, City have the odds against them to avoid defeat on Friday – Tipbet have them at 7.00 to win, 4.25 to draw or 2.50 with Double Chance.
United, in contrast, are at 1.50 to temporarily at least answer the critics and placate Mourinho and top the table with three points. There are a host of other betting markets at the leading sports betting site with a 1-0 home win (6.00) rated as the most likely result. All Premier League matches are covered extensively at Tipbet.