Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney believes new manager Jose Mourinho’s methods are already bearing fruit ahead of his side’s Premier League trip to Hull City on Saturday.
United have won their two opening games, against Bournemouth and Southampton, and go into the weekend level on points with Manchester City, Chelsea and, unexpectedly, Hull at the head of the table.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored four goals in three games and with world-record returnee Paul Pogba impressing in the 2-0 win over Southampton, Rooney feels United have hit the ground running.
“We, as players, have to adapt to what the manager wants us to do in our preparations throughout the week and, on match-days, we try to take the game plan of the manager onto the pitch,” he told MUTV.
“It’s what we’ve tried to do and, fortunately, we’ve started the season well. We’ve prepared well this week so we’re hoping that continues.
“The signings we’ve made this season have been really good signings. They’ve settled in really quickly and you’ve seen the impact they’ve had on the pitch already.”
While City, United and Chelsea’s presence in the top four gives the lead places in the Premier League standings a familiar look, Hull’s strong start to the season has surprised everyone.
After Steve Bruce quit as manager and Hull were left with only 13 senior players, the East Yorkshire club were installed as the bookmakers’ favourites to go down.
But they defied the odds to stun champions Leicester City 2-1 on the season’s opening day and followed that up with a 2-0 success at Swansea City.
One of Bruce’s principle reasons for leaving was frustration over the club’s lack of transfer activity and caretaker coach Mike Phelan says there will be no new faces on show at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday.
“It’s the same old, same old,” said Phelan, who spent 20 years at United as a player, coach and assistant manager underAlex Ferguson.
“Nobody has yet come into the building. We haven’t signed any new players. We are in talks with two or three new players.
“We’ve set our stall out and are pursuing interests, but at the moment nothing has been delivered.”
Klopp’s Spurs return
The identity of the man between the posts for Manchester City will be a hot topic once again on Sunday when Pep Guardiola’s side welcome West Ham United to the Etihad Stadium.
Claudio Bravo has completed his move from Barcelona for a reported initial fee of 13.75 million pounds ($18.2 million, 16.1 million euros).
But with the Chile international having only just arrived, Guardiola is expected to restore Willy Caballero to his starting XI, which means Joe Hart will drop to the bench.
Hart was hailed by City’s fans during Wednesday’s 1-0 Champions League win over Steaua Bucharest, but with youngster Angus Gunn also pushing for a place, Guardiola cannot even guarantee him a spot on the bench.
“If all four stay here, the best solution is for everybody to be involved in our idea,” Guardiola said.
“They are going to be in rotation, part of that. So (if) Joe, Willy and Angus stay, then it won’t be the same one who is always on the bench.”
Chelsea will look to pursue their renaissance under former Juventus and Italy manager Antonio Conte when they entertain Burnley at Stamford Bridge.
Burnley stunned Liverpool 2-0 at Turf Moor last weekend, despite seeing less than 20 percent of the ball, only to then crash to a woeful League Cup exit at fourth-tier Accrington Stanley.
At White Hart Lane, Tottenham Hotspur host Liverpool in a clash between two clubs hoping to gatecrash the Manchester duopoly at the top of the table.
“Both teams have consistency in the squad. There are of course new players, but not too many changes,” said Jurgen Klopp, whose tenure as Liverpool manager began with a 0-0 draw at Spurs last October.
“It will be exciting what will happen there.”
Arsenal, meanwhile, visit Watford.
Arsene Wenger’s men remain without a win after two games, but fans have been placated by moves for Germany defender Shkodran Mustafi and Spanish striker Lucas Perez.
Saturday (1400 GMT unless otherwise stated)
Chelsea v Burnley, Crystal Palace v Bournemouth, Everton v Stoke City, Hull City v Manchester United (1630 GMT), Leicester City v Swansea City, Southampton v Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool (1130 GMT), Watford vArsenal
Manchester City v West Ham United (1500 GMT), West Bromwich Albion v Middlesbrough (1230 GMT)