FIVE-POINT PLAN

Australian Four Four Two - - PREMIER LEAGUE -

1 ERAD­I­CATE SLIP- UPS

After kick­ing off 2017-18 with three wins and three clean sheets, United stum­bled at Stoke, draw­ing 2-2 with a team who’d end up rel­e­gated. Pro­moted Hud­der­s­field in­flicted the Red Devils’ first de­feat, and any flick­er­ing ti­tle am­bi­tions were ex­tin­guished by frus­trat­ing fes­tive draws with Le­ices­ter, Burn­ley and Southamp­ton, all in a row. United must re­store their ruth­less­ness in at­tack and bel­liger­ence in de­fence. Pos­i­tive signs came in the per­sis­tence that en­abled them to re­cover from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at both Crys­tal Palace and Manch­ester City in the spring.

2 UNLEASH THE POG

Mour­inho has yet to find a way of get­ting the best from Paul Pogba, but Fred’s $92 mil­lion ar­rival from Shakhtar Donetsk may help the French­man to re­dis­cover his Ju­ven­tus form. The Brazil­ian is happy op­er­at­ing as a de­fen­sive mid­fielder or play­maker, which could af­ford Pogba the free­dom to roam men­ac­ingly for­ward and put in per­for­mances be­fit­ting an $160m man.

3 IDEN­TIFY NEW LEAD­ERS

Tra­di­tion­ally, Mour­inho iden­ti­fies a core group of lead­ers in his side. He hasn’t es­tab­lished that at Old Trafford. The top can­di­date was Michael Car­rick but he has now re­tired, while Mour­inho’s mid­field lieu­tenants, An­der Her­rera and Marouane Fel­laini (whose con­tract has been ex­tended), don’t suit the role. Lead­er­ship must come from the team’s few re­main­ing ti­tle-win­ners, led by the 33-year-old An­to­nio Va­len­cia.

4 LET CRE­ATIV­ITY FLOW

It’s not in Mour­inho’s na­ture, but let­ting his men play their nat­u­ral game once in a while, or even en­cour­ag­ing them to have fun, might pay off. Though dis­ci­plined, United too of­ten look re­stricted, play­ing within them­selves and ap­pear­ing afraid to make mis­takes. Lighten up, Jose!

5 HAVE FAITH IN YOUTH

Al­though only half of Rash­ford’s ap­pear­ances came in the start­ing XI, Lin­gard and McTom­i­nay flew the flag for United’s academy in the first team last sea­son. McTom­i­nay’s se­lec­tion sur­prised many at the club, which will en­cour­age his young peers.

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