Manchester United opened their Premier League campaign in style as they thrashed Chelsea 4-0 at Old Trafford.
Here, PA assesses the contribution of every individual from both teams:
David De Gea: A largely quiet game for the Spaniard on the day he was handed the captain’s armband. Beaten twice but spared by the woodwork. 6
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: Snuffed out Emerson’s marauding run down United’s right in the opening moments, an early example of a composed and mature performance from the £50million man. 8
Harry Maguire: In the week he became the world’s most expensive defender, the former Leicester man overcame any early rustiness to subdue Tammy Abraham. A solid start. 7
Victor Lindelof: Very early days but the Swede and Maguire look to have formed a decent understanding with each other. 7
Luke Shaw: Criticised by former United boss Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports for his positional sense during the interval, the left-back blossomed as the match wore on. 6
Scott McTominay: Turned defence into attack on a number of occasions although an untimely slip in the first half almost allowed Pedro an opening. 7
Paul Pogba: An all-action display from the Frenchman after a difficult summer. His stunning pass freed Marcus Rashford for United’s third before unselfishly teeing up Daniel James for the fourth. 8
Andreas Pereira: Whipped in a wonderful cross for United’s second in an industrious display. 7
Jesse Lingard: A couple of bustling runs apart, the England midfielder was overshadowed by others. 6
Anthony Martial: Wasteful in the early stages and occasionally sloppy in possession, the Frenchman nevertheless opened his account from close range to give United some breathing room. 7
Marcus Rashford: Two goals in front of onlooking England manager Gareth Southgate, starting off the rout with a fine finish to a penalty he earned before calmly slotting home after being put through by Pogba’s ball over the top. 8
Daniel James (on for Pereira, 74): Capped a late cameo with a debut goal, firing across Kepa Arrizabalaga after showing a great turn of pace to keep up with Pogba. 7
Juan Mata (on for Lingard, 86): No time to make an impression. 6
Mason Greenwood (on for Rashford, 86): As above. 6
Kepa Arrizabalaga: Little chance of keeping out any of United’s goals, Kepa was let down by those in front of him. 6
Cesar Azpilicueta: Got forward well but was one of a number of defenders routinely caught out of possession. 5
Andreas Christensen: Was given a tough afternoon by Rashford. 5
Kurt Zouma: A nightmare display on his Chelsea return. Fortunate a loose ball to Martial did not lead to the opener but gave away a spot-kick with an unnecessary challenge on Rashford. Nervy thereafter. 4
Emerson: Fired against the bar after ghosting into the area but not so adept at tracking back. 5
Jorginho: Had no answer to Pogba and company after the break and may be looking over his shoulder once N’Golo Kante regains full fitness. 5
Mateo Kovacic: Over-run by the United juggernaut. 5
Pedro: Willing as ever but largely on the margins. 5
Ross Barkley: Given the nod ahead of Christian Pulisic, the former Everton midfielder threatened occasionally, drawing a fine save out of De Gea before being withdrawn just before the hour. 6
Mason Mount: Was at the heart of proceedings in an encouraging opening but faded as United gathered momentum after the interval. 6
Tammy Abraham: Rattled the post as his movement troubled United but shackled by Maguire before being withdrawn at the midway point of the second half. 6
Christian Pulisic (on for Barkley, 58): The United States captain was welcomed to the Premier League with a rough challenge from Pogba. 5
Olivier Giroud (on for Abraham, 66): An anonymous display from the Frenchman. 5
N’Golo Kante (on for Jorginho, 73): Little he could do to stem the tide before being booked late on. 5
Copy provided by PA Sport
Jose Mourinho joked that Manchester City’s substitutes might be good enough to win the Premier League title this season as he said his former clubs Manchester United and Chelsea must focus on finishing in the top four.
The Portuguese, appearing on Sky Sports before his ex-employers went head-to-head at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon, was asked who can win the title this season and said: “Four, Man City, Tottenham, Liverpool and the Man City ‘B’ team.
“When I looked at the bench yesterday, the players not involved, I think even the ‘B’ team could fight for the title.”
City, 5-0 winners at West Ham on Saturday, had a substitutes bench including new signing Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Sergio Aguero – who scored after his second-half introduction.
Neither United nor Chelsea boast such strength-in-depth, with questions asked over United’s failure to sign a central midfielder or a replacement for striker Romelu Lukaku, while Chelsea were subject to a transfer ban this summer and lost Eden Hazard to Real Madrid.
Frank Lampard takes charge of Chelsea for the first time in the afternoon fixture, but Mourinho does not expect his former player to face the same pressures as several of his predecessors.
“In this moment, with the transfer ban, that releases the pressure,” he said. “They have a very good squad of course. I am very curious to see the direction Frank is going to go.
“Today, does (Olivier) Giroud or Tammy Abraham play? If Tammy Abraham plays and Chelsea doesn’t win, people can go in the direction of the younger players, they need time, they are not playing to win the Premier League.
“You don’t buy players but you buy time.”
Though Mourinho said he did not believe United could win the title, he believes it is vital Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s players do not share that view.
“The dressing room must feel they can win the title,” he said. “If they don’t feel it, they are in trouble, but I think to finish (in the) top four would be a good achievement.”
However, Mourinho, sacked in December by United, admitted he did not have that belief himself at the start of last season.
“When I said that second position the previous season was one of my biggest achievements in football I was not having fun with the words,” he said. “I just was just telling you what I was feeling.
“I didn’t feel last season we did enough in the transfer window to allow us to compete for the first position because though we finished second the distance to first was very considerable.
“So I don’t feel this season they can (win) but I hope they feel they can because that will be an important motivational push for them.”
Copy provided by Press Association Sport
We all know transfer deadline day has the ability to raise football fans’ expectations – not to mention temperatures – to dangerously high levels. But the total meltdown of Manchester United fans which greeted the summer window closing was more scalding than the inside of an active volcano.
Red Devils supporters’ tempers were left at boiling point due to their club’s inactivity on the final day, spewing Twitter barbs in the direction of Ed Woodward, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, anyone in fact who cared to listen; like balls of molten hot lava erupting from Mount Vesuvius.
Unhappy? Fair enough. Many fans are after the deadline passes. Despite some excellent business completed by Solskjaer and Co, the majority of United followers would ideally have wanted a midfielder to be added to the squad this summer – particularly considering Ander Herrera’s unpopular exit.
But the heat fans directed Woodward’s way was, frankly, obscene.
This article is by no means a shield under which the United executive vice chairman will find shelter from the heat. Far from it. The fact an accountant and investment banker is heading up football player recruitment at one of the biggest football clubs in the world is shambolic. And yet, it’s also been one of the more astute and sensible summers overseen by the 47-year-old.
Have United fans forgot how porous their defence was last year? Fifty four goals conceded in 38 games – embarrassingly much more than double the tally of champions Manchester City (23) and runners-up Liverpool (22). And more than all of the five teams that finished above them; Chelsea and Tottenham (39), Arsenal (51).
It resulted in a goal difference of only +11. Arsenal were closest with +22, while Liverpool (+67) and City (+72) were mere specs on the horizon. More worrying was the fact five teams who finished below the Red Devils in the table shipped fewer goals – Wolves, Everton (both 46), Leicester, Newcastle (both 48) and Crystal Palace (53); the latter two clubs finished 12th and 13th.
Two seasons ago, United may have finished a distant 19 points adrift of City in second place – the largest ever gap between champions and runners-up in the Premier League era – but Jose Mourinho’s miserly defence conceded just 28 goals. Almost half the amount of 2018/19.
To put it into context the 54 goals allowed last season was the most the club had conceded in a Premier League season, by some distance too. The previous highest was 45, in both 2000/01 when they finished third and 1999/00 – at least they had the treble to comfort them that year.
You have to go back to 1978/79 for last season’s defensive disaster to be surpassed, when 63 goals were conceded.
So, heading into this summer the priority was clear – defence. It’s been clear for some years.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – he of the third most tackles in Europe’s top five leagues last season – was brought in from Crystal Palace. You’ll remember they conceded less goals than United last season as well. Harry Maguire was acquired with a similarly hefty sum from Leicester. You’ll remember they conceded less goals than United last season, too.
All of a sudden United’s leaky back line has been plugged with the addition of two quality players.
A back five of David De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw now looks formidable. United even have a legitimate claim to possess possibly the best defence in the league.
Whether that’s true or not is up for debate. But United at least head into the new season with their defence now looking shipshape rather than the shipwreck it resembled last term.
Daniel James is the third United arrival. Not as heralded as either of his defensive comrades. Nowhere near as expensive either. But he is a bright prospect and will compliment United’s new-look attack. Solskjaer wants to play with pace and energy. He wants to press and be fluid and James is a good fit, as evidenced in pre-season, where he and United impressed.
Of course it is not perfect. United have not been perfect for a long time. Issues remain, most pressingly in midfield where quality is lacking. But, again, effort and energy is not. Here United impressed again, with Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira among the Red Devils’ summer standouts. And, of course, they do still possess Paul Pogba.
United fans were convinced Bruno Fernandes was going to arrive from Sporting Lisbon. Portuguese media fuelled talk of a potential deal all summer. And yet, the flames were actually never fanned. It is thought Fernandes was only ever of superficial interest to the club and never a serious target.
Other chatter suggests the 24-year-old would only have been pursued had United profited handsomely from the sale of Pogba.
United fans – and critics – were so determined to taint and taunt United’s perceived paltry summer haul that they claimed Marouane Fellaini had not been replaced. An excuse almost as funny as the court jester-type figure of fun the frizzy-haired Belgian played while donning the red jersey.
There are other fears too. For all his technical faults, Romelu Lukaku was a gluttonous goalscorer during his two seasons at United. Forty two scored in 96 games for the Red Devils is ravenous form. Too bad not enough were scored against premier opposition or on the biggest stages.
What a week, dreams do come true ❤️ pic.twitter.com/fdSUzogjVe— Harry Maguire (@HarryMaguire93) August 9, 2019
The biggest fear here is Solskjaer spreading himself thin in the striking department with only 17-year-old protege Mason Greenwood and an anemic Alexis Sanchez able to cover Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
But Greenwood is a prodigious talent and Solskjaer and many at the club have faith he can play a significant role this season.
In addition, the squad is bloated. A pile of unwanted driftwood has been allowed to build. United have 13 defenders on their books – Leeds United had only three more total players in their traveling squad to Australia that played the Red Devils in a pre-season friendly in Perth last month.
Marcos Rojo looks horribly out of place in any United XI and Matteo Darmian, while unfortunate, has ultimately proved not up to standard.
So, burning issues remain. But fans shouldn’t be fooled into thinking Old Trafford is on fire. The only thing red-hot should be the excitement heading into the new campaign. The only thing fans need to fuel is their belief.