And despite a substandard start, United have begun to display signs of morphing into a dangerous unit, with the aforementioned pair quickly beginning to impose themselves on English football.
Neville, speaking earlier this week, claimed that Mourinho’s influence has given rise to greater levels of arrogance and entertainment at United this season.
“There have been far too many signings that have been off-piste, not the profile of United player you would expect,” he said.
“This team that I see being developed now is better. It has character a bit of arrogance. Zlatan, Pogba.
“I saw something at Crystal Palace last week, it feels like United used to be. It feels like the spirit, the celebrating on the pitch at the end, the fans being with the players.
“When I go to Old Trafford and see a United shirt, I expect to see arrogance, confidence, the unexpected. I expect to be entertained to the very last minute. I don’t expect to be bored and this season I am going and feeling like the team are re-engaging with the fans in the sense of how they are playing.
“There’s an arrogance up top. There’s a guy up there who believes he is God. That’s Manchester United and what the fans expect. A Cantona or Denis Law, George Best, Ronaldo. They expect that figure in the team, who stands up there and has that personality when you go.
“Now, as a fan, I like them more as a team – and a lot more in terms of personality and character.”
Last season saw Louis van Gaal take United – the team we love, the team we expect to see dismantling opponents with scintillating, forward thinking football – and turn them into a lifeless, frustrated amoeba, blindly carrying out his misguided vision and ultimately failing – but not only failing, failing in the least exciting way possible. I couldn’t help but feel distanced from my team, almost as if they’d been lobotomised, stripped of any identity.
But Mourinho, despite failing to consistently deliver results, has rebuilt that bridge between supporters and players. He has taken a group of confidence-sapped misfits, drafted in some world class names and formed a team capable of blitzing opponents – capable of exciting fans once again.
United could finish 13th under Mourinho this season, but it would still be less painful than what we witnessed under his predecessor.