• More: Richard Jolly's predictions | Fixtures in UAE time
The National's sports team is counting down the days until defending champions Leicester City take on newly promoted Hull City in the opening fixture of the 2016/17 English Premier League season by looking at one team a day. Today, Manchester United.
Punch, penetration, precision and incision – all the elements United lacked in their attacking build-up last season have been resoundingly addressed with the signings of Henrik Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and with the club in negotiations to smash the world record transfer fee to bring prodigal son Paul Pogba back to the club from Juventus, United will have teeth sharpened for the season ahead.
Jose Mourinho has wasted little time signalling his intention that he aims to make United the fourth championship-winning team on his CV. The addition of Eric Bailly in central defence could see a partnership alongside Chris Smalling blossom into the bedrock that has hallmarked the club for years, from Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Matic. With Luke Shaw back to full fitness following a horrific leg break last year, United’s defence has a formidable look about it once again.
United fans had become disillusioned with the style of football under Mourinho’ predecessor Louis van Gaal, when even an FA Cup final triumph in May was not enough to save the Dutchman’s job. Mourinho rarely leaves a club on good terms, but he does leave with additional silverware to line each club’s trophy cabinet.
Expect United to improve on a fifth-placed finish under the Portuguese; sign the Frenchman Pogba and expect them to be serious challengers to Leicester City’s title.
• Hull City: Promoted club had unstable summer
• Middlesbrough: Hopes lie largely in Spaniards
• Burnley: Third time the charm?
• Sunderland: Moyes the make-or-break factor in survival hopes
• Bournemouth: Well placed to avoid 'second season syndrome'
• Crystal Palace: Time to deliver on all that talent
• West Bromwich Albion: Another season of mid-table mediocrity
• Watford: Early fixtures will set the tone — for better or worse
• Swansea City: Swans need a striker, and stability
• Everton: In good hands with Koeman
• Chelsea: Hazard key to turnaround year
• Stoke City: Defensive stability is essential
• Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp era begins in earnest
• West Ham United: New home, with new expectations
• Southampton: Puel in for baptism by fire
Still to come
• Tomorrow: Manchester City
• Wednesday: Tottenham
• Thursday: Arsenal
• Friday: Leicester City
• Saturday: Premier League season begins
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