Optimism at Old Trafford is the highest it’s been since the Sir Alex Ferguson era following a quite remarkable summer for Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho has replaced Louis van Gaal, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has the No. 9 shirt and, for the first time in the club’s history, the Red Devils have broken the world transfer record.
Paul Pogba, the world’s most sought-after central midfielder, will make his debut against Southampton on Friday night.
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But what else does Mourinho need to do before the transfer window closes at 11pm on August 31?
Here are five things the Portuguese coach needs to seriously consider doing to give himself the best possible chance of winning the title in his debut season with the Premier League giants.
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Get rid of the deadwood
Jose Mourinho is doing fairly well on this front, but there’s still plenty of work to do before the transfer window closes.
Donald Love and Paddy McNair were both sold to Sunderland last week while Nick Powell, Joe Rothwell and Victor Valdes have also left Old Trafford this summer.
But there are others who need to be shown the door over the next fortnight.
Bastian Schweinsteiger is, of course, Mourinho’s primary concern. The German midfielder is currently on a massive £200,000-a-week contract and has been told by the United boss that he has no future at the club.
Sam Johnstone, Marcos Rojo and potentially Phil Jones, Matteo Darmian and Marouane Fellaini, even though he impressed against Bournemouth last weekend, are also all in danger of being axed.
Organise loans for several others
Adnan Januzaj and Guillermo Varela have both been loaned out this summer and the same needs to happen to several other members of the Red Devils’ squad.
James Wilson, Tyler Blackett, Will Keane, Andreas Pereira - arguably the most talented of the bunch - and Axel Tuanzebe would all benefit from a temporary spell away from Old Trafford.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Timothy Fosu-Mensah will both come in handy for United when the League Cup and Europa League fixtures roll around.
Sign one more centre-back
Eric Bailly has been superb in his first two competitive appearances for United - picking up the Man of the Match award against both Leicester City and Bournemouth - but Mourinho still lacks strength in depth in this particular area of the pitch.
Chris Smalling is expected to establish a solid partnership alongside Bailly in central defence while midfielder-by-trade Daley Blind has showcased his credentials over the past couple of weeks, but Jones isn’t reliable enough.
If Smalling or Bailly get injured this season, United will find themselves in trouble at the back.
Consider signing a midfield destroyer
It was evident at the European Championships that Paul Pogba is not a holding midfielder.
Didier Deschamps deployed the former Juventus star in that position and he was unfairly criticised for not having a big enough impact, particularly in the final against Portugal.
United don’t currently possess a midfield destroyer. It’s a mystery why they didn’t push harder to sign N’Golo Kante from Leicester City.
Morgan Schneiderlin is the closest thing they’ve got to a midfield enforcer but the Frenchman was more of a box-to-box player at Southampton, where he produced his best performances.
Ander Herrera is similar while Michael Carrick could be described as a ‘quarterback’.
It’s not essential for Mourinho but it’s certainly something he’ll be considering with the clock ticking down to transfer deadline day.
Solve the Pogba-Rooney-Zlatan dilemma
How does Mourinho fit Pogba, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic into the same starting line-up?
That’s the question on every United fan’s lips at the moment and, in truth, there isn’t an obvious answer.
Rooney and Zlatan take up similar positions on the pitch and Pogba will also want to burst forward, through the middle of the park, from central midfield.
It makes sense for Mourinho to switch from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3, dropping Rooney and playing Herrera and either Schneiderlin or Fellaini deeper in midfielder in order to allow Pogba to support Ibrahimovic further up the pitch.
If Mourinho opts to stick with the 4-2-3-1, in order to accommodate Rooney, he may find that £89 million man Pogba struggles to flourish in a midfield two.
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