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United a couple of signings away from genuine Premier League title challenge

Man Utd fans can look forward to the new season full of optimism after several Red Devils stars dazzled at this summer’s World Cup. Chief among them was Paul Pogba, who displayed phenomenal athleticism in the engine room as France powered to victory. But Romelu Lukaku also excelled for Belgium, Victor Lindelof was a revelation for Sweden and even Marcos Rojo drew a standing applause after thundering in an exquisite volley. Throw in Jesse Lingard impressing in the England midfield and Marouane Fellaini breaking into the marauding Belgium team and Man Utd fans can be happy with their players’ contributions.

However, the bookmakers are unconvinced by their prospects for the upcoming campaign. Read a BetDSI review and find the best odds available online and you will see that Man Utd are 7/1 third-favourites for glory, while Man City are the odds-on favourites and Liverpool are 5/1. Yet no team has won back-to-back titles since Man Utd under Sir Alex Ferguson a decade ago, so Man City are by no means a shoo-in for the title. Liverpool are still weak at the back and they have not yet brought in a decent goalkeeper, so Man Utd should fear neither of them.

If Jose Mourinho can get Pogba and Lukaku playing like they were in Russia, the Red Devils could be in for a fine season. Pogba enjoyed a lot more freedom in the French midfield than he does for Man Utd. The team was built around him to a greater extent, and it played to his strengths. Having N’Golo Kante next to him meant he did not have to be quite so disciplined defensively, and Mourinho might consider a pacier alternative to Nemanja Matic in the holding midfield role. He was also given more leeway to express himself and take risks on the ball, and it paid dividends.

Lukaku has always been a bulldozer of a centre-forward, but he showed just how effective he can be when deployed out wide alongside a false nine. It allowed Belgium to topple favourites Brazil in the quarter-finals, and it could be an interesting Plan B for Mourinho. Alexis Sanchez struggled last season, but he could thrive in a central role if Lukaku is occasionally moved out to the wing. Sanchez often occupies the space that Pogba likes to charge into, inadvertently neutering him, so that would solve another problem. The likes of Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard have also got in Pogba’s way at times, but for France Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann would peel out wide to allow him to charge forward. Copying that model could help Man Utd move up a gear next season.

Lukaku and Pogba will probably miss the start of the season as they went right to the wire in the World Cup, but their first two games – a home meeting with Leicester and a visit to Brighton – are winnable. If they can get that duo back on song in time for the home game against Tottenham on August 27, they could inspire Man Utd to a famous victory and set the tone for a glorious campaign.

David De Gea was not at his best for Spain, but he will surely bounce back. Lindelof showed that he can be a defensive titan for the club after putting in some magnificent performances for Sweden. They kept clean sheets against Switzerland, Mexico and South Korea, and Lindelof was the towering lynchpin that held it all together. Man Utd should be even tighter defensively next season if he can replicate that form, and with a couple more signings the club could make a mockery of the current odds.

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