Jesse Lingard has shed light on the high spirits in the Manchester United dressing room following Europa League success in May and an emphatic opening day result against West Ham United last weekend.
And while the Swede wasn’t involved, Lukaku and Matic were instrumental architects of a thrilling 4-0 win over Slaven Bilic’s men that sent an important message to the rest of the division.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Lingard was quick to point out the shift in mood surrounding United’s title ambitions – despite finishing sixth last year – in light of winning the Europa League and notably improving over the summer.
“There’s a lot of confidence flying around at the moment and it’s good that we can stick together and be a part of it,” he said.
“Even the lads who weren’t involved at the weekend still played a big part in the win.”
“The group that we had it was easy for players to settle in, the likes of Rom [Lukaku] and Victor [Lindelof], it was always going to be easy for them. They’re very down to earth guys and they want to work hard on the training pitch.
And when asked if this current side was capable of challenging for the title, he replied: “I don’t see why not. The whole team is working hard this season and hopefully we’ll win trophies. We’re in a lot of competitions, the more trophies the better.”
“It’s a very tall dressing room but you’ve got to handle yourself and let them score the headers,” he jokingly added.
“I didn’t really watch him [Matic] much last season but you can see what he can bring to the team. He’s a player that’s very stable on the ball and can keep it ticking over for us.
“We know Nemanja is a different midfield player and he can just feed the ball to Paul [Pogba] and the other midfield players and let them play their own game. He can sit back and stabilise the play for us.”
In a way, United’s first two games of the season couldn’t have gone any better. Yes, they lost to Real Madrid – and deservedly so – but this set-back was important: a firm reminder of the current benchmark being set in Europe by Zinedine Zidane’s men and of how much United need to improve before they can truly call themselves as a top team.
With this in the back of their minds, they demonstrated on Sunday a capacity for inflicting plenty of damage on a domestic front. There are, of course, plenty of twists and turns to be had this season, but the ruthlessness with which they put away their chances on Sunday was a far cry from the neurosis in front of goal last year.
And it will, no doubt, have an enormous effect on the dressing room. You can tell they really believe that a corner has been turned ahead of a crucial campaign under Mourinho.