Paul Ince: ‘Best United side since Fergie’ still need a goalscorer – Zlatan return would be just the ticket

Former United midfielder was impressed with the opening win, but has urged caution about title talk without another goalscorer. He also hits out at pundits who claim Antonio Conte didn’t want to sell Nemanja Matic.


United really are a different beast to last year – when they didn’t have the right balance within the team. The signings Mourinho has made this window seem like the most sensible of any manager in the league. He’s seen issues and addressed them.

Romelu Lukaku will score a bagful of goals, Matic should allow Pogba to get forward, and hopefully Lindelof will strengthen them at the back.

On Sunday, they were quick, attacking, much more like the United fans actually want to see and rival fans hate to. It was exciting. And I think every fan in a red shirt will be hoping it’s not just a one-off.

After that performance, I can understand why the fans are getting excited – they’ve wanted to see a performance like that for a long time. But it’s only one game, and it was against a poor West Ham side, though it looks like an indication of things to come.

Teams came to Old Trafford last season playing defensively, hoping for a draw – this performance suggested Mourinho’s team won’t stand for that this season. They’ll come for you.

Most exciting Red Devils side since Fergie – without a doubt

I’ve heard United fans saying it’s the most excited they’ve been since Sir Alex Ferguson left. And I can completely see why.

I played there for six years, and that kind of performance is what was expected of us then. Even going right back to the 70s and 80s, United teams were expected to be quick, attacking and impressive to watch. And if Mourinho can carry on like he did last Sunday, he’s got a real threat on his hands, and a threat which finally fits the ‘United Way’.

It’s a club which is known for putting teams on the back foot, for putting pressure on for 90 minutes and making teams terrified of playing them.

We didn’t really see that last season.

Rashford isn’t the answer… Yet.

United still need to get another big name in, a goalscorer. Yes, they’ve got Lukaku, but if he’s injured or has an off-day, I don’t know who’s going to get the goals.

This won’t go down well, but unless it comes when he gets older, I don’t see Marcus Rashford getting them. He just misses too many chances at the moment. There’s talk of Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming back in January, which I think could be brilliant. He was unbelievable for United last season, and is an out-and-out lethal goalscorer. He’s the sort of player they need even though they already have Lukaku.

But everyone, from all over the pitch, needs to pull their weight. They can’t be totally reliant on Lukaku.  His 25 goals won’t be enough to bring a title back to Manchester United.

When I played at the club, you could guarantee you’d be getting at least 15 goals from the back. On top of that, you’d be getting a bagful from the midfield. Between Me, Roy Keane, Bryan Robson, Ryan Giggs… You’re guaranteed a serious amount of goals. Last season, aside from Zlatan, the midfield players were getting very few in the league. That’s just not good enough.

Conte DID want to sell Matic

You would’ve expected Chelsea to beat Burnley, of course you would – but it’s absolutely insane to start doubting them or jumping down Antonio Conte’s throat because of one loss.

To seriously rule them – the champions – out because of that honestly winds me up.

People are jumping on the bandwagon – they think it makes them shocking and interesting if they doubt Chelsea. They’re making comparisons to Jose Mourinho’s last season there and also suggesting he’s the favourite to be the first manager to leave.

It’s absolutely stupid, let’s sit back and be a bit realistic. You put some of the players Conte was without against Burnley back in the team and it changes again.

Then there’s talk of Conte’s relationship with Abramovich and the sale of Nemanja Matic. I can’t help but think that if you’re the manager who has just won the Premier League in your first season in England, who’s now in the Champions League, the decision of whether or not to keep Matic came from Conte and no one else.

I think people just like to say Abramovich was involved to make an exciting story.

You’ve got Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher saying he didn’t want to sell Matic – well I’m fairly sure he mustn’t have had a huge issue with him going, or he’d still be at the club.

So now you’re in a situation where everyone is asking how he could sell Matic to a rival like Man United, but at the end of the day that was his decision and he clearly thought that it would be okay.

Who Conte buys and sells comes from him and no one else. I refuse to buy anything else. If you buy the players and you’re successful, you keep your job. If you turn up at Stamford Bridge and you’re no good, you lose your job. That’s what happens at Chelsea.

The fact is, if Chelsea go and batter Tottenham this weekend, suddenly everyone will say they’ll be back on for the title. Or if United have a shocker against Swansea, no one will be going crazy about them anymore either. These kneejerk reactions are ridiculous.

Let’s see what happens after ten games and make a proper assessment.

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What do you think?