We here at The Busby Babe are generally the level-headed sort. Like Baby Bear’s porridge, we’re never too hot or too cold; we’re just right, baby. But every now and then, it’s good to release our emotional valves. In this week’s roundtable, we allow ourselves to get carried away.
Overreaction of the Week: Let’s get giddy!
Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matić are the best midfield duo United have had since Keane and Scholes. I don’t care that it’s only been one game. Matić had the second most successful take-ons in the league this past weekend (I saw it on Twitter, which is never inaccurate), and he’s meant to be the more defensive of the two. Pogba will boss every midfield that he comes across this season, and - without getting too carried away - will probably score 30 goals by Christmas. I’m already looking forward to Pogba singling out Matić for praise next year when the Frenchman gives his
Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year PFA Player of the Year BALLON D’OR acceptance speech. - BM
United have a world class centre-forward for the first time since Robin van Persie left. When I think about it, as I often do, I generally conclude that Robin van Persie is my all-time favourite Manchester United footballer. There’s something undeniably exciting about the presence of a natural No. 9, a player whose inexplicable goalscoring instinct ensures every moment is one of opportunity. Romelu Lukaku is one of those players. He has a sense the rest of us lack, a combination of knowing where he has to be, and the physique to ensure he gets there. Could he score three hundred goals this season? Well, we can’t guarantee it, but we’re not saying no. - JS
José Mourinho is dressing like a grown up again. The transformation of José Mourinho from serial winner to serial grouch (and occasional winner) can be observed in his sartorial choices. At some point during his spell at Real Madrid, he abandoned suits for tracksuits and long coats for weird puffy body-warmers, and allowed a smattering of middle-aged stubble to spread across his previously well-trimmed jawline. And just as the outside declined, so too the inside: he became a twitchy paranoiac, eventually leaving behind him a shattered dressing room and a league riven with rancour.
Upon returning to Chelsea, he continued the anti-trend of dressing like a kleptomaniac that had been given an unsupervised hour in the megastore. Yes, he picked up a league title and sent Steven Gerrard tumbling to the floor, but it did not end well. The club tat was present throughout much of his first season at United, too; there for bore draw after bore draw. Then — oh blessed day! — on Sunday afternoon, he strolled out into the Manchester sunshine wearing a suit. He looked good. And so did his team. We’re not saying there’s a definite connection, but we certainly don’t believe in coincidences. — AT
Doom and Gloom of the Week: Crisis! Panic!
The opening day clean sheet is fool’s gold. To keep a clean sheet without David de Gea having to do too much DeGeaness is usually the sign of an excellent defensive performance. But let’s not get carried away. West Ham were rubbish in attack. United really should have brought in an experienced, top class defender this summer. Instead, it’s the same ragtag bunch from last season, plus a player who is so unready to contribute that he didn’t even make the matchday squad. We’re one Eric Bailly injury or suspension away from being a total clown show at the back. - BM
West Ham are actually a bit rubbish. Perhaps this isn’t exactly reason to panic, but it is reason to turn the excitement down a notch or two. Perhaps the real lesson the Premier League learned from United’s win is not that José Mourinho’s side are PREMIER LEAGUE 2017-18 CHAMPIONS ELECT, but rather that West Ham are pants. Slaven Bilić’s side went big in the transfer market, but turned out a disappointingly squidgy performance, the occasional threat of Javier Hernández totally undermined by the utter incompetence of their defence. We’re going to have to wait a bit longer for an accurate reading on United. - JS
Opening day results are usually meaningless, and occasionally misleading. Especially when four United goals are involved. In 2013-14, in David Moyes’ first league game in charge, United beat Swansea City 4-1 ... and ended the season in seventh. In 1988-89, as Alex Ferguson laboured to reshape the club, they beat Arsenal 4-1 ... and finished 13th. In 1985-86, under Ron Atkinson’s guidance, they began with a 4-0 trouncing of Aston Villa, won the next nine games as well ... and finished fourth.
By contrast, the 1995-96 title season began with a now-famous 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa — “you’ll win nothing with kids” — and the treble season started with a 2-2 draw with Leicester City. Should have thrown it, José. The omens are terrible. — AT