Jose Mourinho is morphing Manchester United into a replica of his 2004/05 Chelsea side, Glenn Hoddle believes.
That Chelsea side blew their opponents away, winning the Premier League title by 12 points with the loss of just one game all season.
It was built on strong, powerful players with a little creative flair and former England manager Hoddle sees a similar side being constructed at Old Trafford.
Looking at the Red Devils’ three summer signings, Hoddle wrote in his column for the Daily Mail: ‘Nemanja Matic is 6ft 4in, Romelu Lukaku is 6ft 3in, Victor Lindelof is 6ft 1in. It may not be what Manchester United fans have been traditionally used to, it may be a step away from the panache and flair on which they have been brought up, but Jose Mourinho is building something.’
He went on: ‘It looks almost like a machine, a team of strong, physical, battle-hardened players to get him through the winter. And that may be enough to get United back in the game to challenge for the title.
‘What Mourinho is constructing …something more like his first Chelsea team of 2004-05. Then he had Petr Cech, Ricardo Carvalho, Frank Lampard, Claude Makelele, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Didier Drogba down the spine of his team.
‘Don’t get me wrong, they were capable of some fine, skilful football. The finesse came from Damien Duff and Arjen Robben. But they also overpowered and overwhelmed opponents.’
That season was the first of back-to-back titles won by Mourinho at Stamford Bridge. With Manchester United failing to come close to topping the table since Sir Alex Ferguson departed, fans would love to see the Portuguese coach work similar magic.
‘It looks as though Mourinho has assessed what United need and has returned to the same formula [as he did at Chelsea],’ added Hoddle, who himself managed Chelsea from 1993-1996.
‘Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata may get the role of creators. Marcus Rashford will provide some speed, as well as Anthony Martial, if he can revive himself under Mourinho. The fact that he is 6ft may give him a chance to do so.
Premier League 2017/18 opening day fixtures
Friday 11 August
Arsenal v Leicester – 19.45
Saturday 12 August
Watford v Liverpool – 12.30
Chelsea v Burnley – 15.00
Crystal Palace v Huddersfield – 15.00
Everton v Stoke City – 15.00
Southampton v Swansea City – 15.00
West Brom v Bournemouth – 15.00
Brighton v Manchester City – 17.30
Sunday 13 August
Newcastle v Tottenham – 13.30
Manchester United v West Ham – 16.00
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‘But essentially this is a powerful team of giants predominantly over 6ft tall: David De Gea, Eric Bailly, Lindelof, Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick, Martial and Lukaku. There are some good technical players in there too and Mourinho will argue it is an evolution of the Ferguson era.
‘But he has assessed the physical challenge of the current Premier League and is determined to ensure he can compete.’
Manchester United’s season gets started at home to West Ham on Sunday.