Midway through the international break, Manchester United fans are buzzing after the club’s best start to a season since Sir Alex Ferguson’s penultimate campaign, five years ago.
They are delighted with the instant silverware, their 100 per cent league record so far and the new signings Jose Mourinho has delivered.
The four players were at Old Trafford before the first league game and all of them have contributed to the successful start to the campaign. Three of the four are settled starters in Mourinho’s first starting eleven, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan has put Juan Mata under pressure after his enlightening cameo in Hull.
Mourinho identified targets, and he got them. At a point in the window there could have been a fifth arrival if it wasn’t for United failing to find their existing defenders sitting on big contracts a new club. Southampton’s Jose Fonte turned out not as important as the others.
As the supporters felt a ‘Fergie time’ thrill once again — confident it won’t lead to a false dawn on this occasion — through Marcus Rashford’s last gasp winner against Mike Phelan’s side, they have been spoilt with many other positives.
Even if the midfield and attack look a lot stronger, keeping David de Gea could prove as crucial as ever this year. Louis van Gaal’s departure ensured the Spaniard staying became much more likely.
Both full-backs have been superb. Luke Shaw has returned looking like the player who began last season so well, when he was putting his first year woes behind him before his serious injury. Antonio Valencia has been the biggest surprise, continuing his impressive form from pre-season and nailing down his spot in defence.
The inclusion of Marouane Fellaini has also shocked a few, though the Belgian has performed ably. Mourinho likes bigger and stronger players and the side is looking more powerful physically. With Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly, as well as Fellaini, United shouldn’t be bullied off the park.
A two-week break has also given fans the chance to inspect the three teams in United’s Europa League group, and time to settle plans for the trips to the Netherlands, Turkey and Ukraine.
Feyenoord’s De Kuip stadium was the scene of one of the club’s great triumphs, the 1991 Cup Winners’ Cup final victory over Barcelona, which some older fans regard as their favourite memory. Robin van Persie, a 2012/13 hero, now of Fenerbahce, will face his old side, while Zorya Luhansk were googled the most they’ve ever been as the draw was made.
Bastian Schweinsteiger will not be part of any of those match ups after he was omitted from the squad for Europe. The German is determined to fight for his place and eventually win over the manager, though as one of the highest earners at Old Trafford, the club would have preferred to see the back of him. And you can’t blame them as the midfielder has disappointed and been unfit during his whole spell in Manchester.
Yet United had no problem moving on the likes of Nick Powell, Tyler Blackett, Will Keane and James Weir. Adnan Januzaj joined Sunderland on loan, where Paddy McNair and Donald Love both left to permanently.
Andreas Pereira, Guillermo Varela, James Wilson and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson all followed several other youngsters out the door on loan.
In 23 days, United have seven games starting with the small matter of the Manchester derby on September 10. Both of the big two boast maximum points as Mourinho, who has made a massive difference, seeks to get one over Pep Guardiola at the first time of asking in the Premier League and resume the excellent start.
Let the buoyant mood, attacking football and last minute winners persist as the prompt fading of Van Gaal’s reign continues.