Why Manchester United can win the Premier League in 2018/19
Manchester United and Jose Mourinho have what it takes to take the battle to Manchester City can win the Premier League in 2018/19.
Jose Mourinho's reign in charge of Manchester United has certainly been a turbulent one, with several ups and downs. However it cannot be denied that Mourinho has improved United from when Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes managed the club.
United haven't won the Premier League since 2012/13 (Sir Alex Ferguson's final season), which is a very long time in the current football landscape. Even Leicester City have won the Premier League more times than United in the last 5 years!
However, there are several reasons why United can win the league next season.
Improved considerably this season compared to previous seasons
Even though the current season has seen United experience mixed fortunes like last season where winning the Europa League and League Cup offset the disappointment of finishing sixth in the league), there is numerical proof that they are closer to the Ferguson glory years than ever before.
Currently, United sit on 77 points after 35 games, with three winnable games against Watford, West Ham and Brighton coming up. United should really win all three of those games and end up on 86 points, which would be an incredible points return given their inconsistency in the league this season.
Across the final seven seasons of Sir Alex's reign as United manager (2006-2013), United averaged exactly 87 points per season. If United do end up on 86 points, that shows that the current United team is in the same bracket as those in Ferguson's reign which is hugely encouraging.
Another statistic worth noting is that United have finally sorted themselves out against the big teams. In the last few months, all other members of the 'Top Six' have been beaten, including an incredible comeback win against Manchester City (which incidentally was the first time they had lost at home in the League since October 2016).
If United carry on in this vein of form, they can be considered as serious title contenders.
Key stat: United have won 32 out of 56 games played in all competitions this season at a win rate of 69%. United's win rate in Sir Alex's Ferguson's final season was only 67%.
Several world class players in their prime
Many pundits and football observers have argued that in any other season, United would have won the league title. Unfortunately, Manchester City have been very good under Pep Guardiola this season and though claims that they are the best ever team to grace the Premier League might be a tad premature, they certainly have a core of players who could be considered world class
Nevertheless, in Matic, De Gea, Pogba, Lukaku, Valencia and Sanchez, United do have the core of a championship-winning side. De Gea has gone to even greater heights this season to establish himself as the world's best goalkeeper, Valencia and Matic have been models of consistency, Lukaku has had a solid debut season, and Sanchez and Pogba have shown what they are capable of in brief flashes.
Sanchez will undoubtedly be a key player if United are to win the league next season, with the Chilean yet to really stamp his mark on the red shirt. However, it's worth remembering that several other notable United players have had inauspicious starts to their careers and gone on to become club legends - Patrice Evra had a nightmare debut against Manchester City but went on to win 5 titles in 7 seasons.
Key stat: David De Gea has already kept more clean sheets in all competitions (21) this season than any other season in his United career.
Mourinho is a proven winner
It's never wise to write Jose Mourinho off. Throughout his career he has repeatedly defied odds to bring success at every single club he's managed and his time at United will be no different.
Critics may argue that Guardiola has the better of Mourinho, but serious football fans will know that Mourinho has beaten his arch-nemesis before. In 2011/12, despite being written off at the start of the season, Mourinho's Real Madrid overcome the might of Guardiola's Barcelona (Messi, Xavi, Iniesta et al.) to win La Liga and force Guardiola to resign the next season.
A similar scenario may unfold next season. Guardiola's Manchester City side are heavy favourites for the title but Mourinho has defeated his adversary before and can do so again.
It's also worth noting that Mourinho is on borrowed time- failure to win the league next season would mean he will have been in charge of United for 3 years without being champions which would surely result in him being sacked.
This pressure could motivate Mourinho to elevate the Reds to the next level, ensuring they do not slip up against the smaller teams (as has been the case this season) o the way to reclaiming the Premier League.
Key stat: Jose Mourinho has a better win rate in all competitions (63%) as United manager than Sir Alex Ferguson (60%).
However, before next season Mourinho must ensure that United win the FA Cup to ensure that the Reds don't finish the season without a trophy. United are favourites to win against Chelsea, and on paper, they have a stronger starting line-up than Chelsea but Mourinho will ensure that the United players are not complacent.
He'll be even more determined to win considering he's up against Antonio Conte, who he's clashed with several times previously.
Ultimately, if United can become more consistent and play more attacking football, they have a good chance of winning the Premier League next season.