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.