Are the Manchester United Red Devils Actually the Golden State Warriors in Disguise?

Featured / Recent News / Soccer Analytics / September 8, 2016

If you’re a human being who is remotely aware of the soccer (footy) scene, I’m sure you’ve followed the buzz of Manchester United in the Premier League this season. First, it was Jose Mourinho receiving his place in the driver’s seat. Then came Zlatan, the self-proclaimed (but acknowledged) legend, followed by other monumental signings like Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Eric Bailly. The transfer window was broken open by the Red Devils’ shopping spree as they dropped nearly 200 million Euros accruing a virtual all-star team. Just look at the starting lineup that took down Hull City prior to the international break:



This doesn’t even scratch the surface. Their bench? Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Chris Smalling, and many more. Granted, the aforementioned star-studded lineup had to be bailed out by a stoppage time Marcus Rashford winner. But only after watching 90 minutes of Hull City play defense almost exclusively.

Having seen nothing but unfaltering dominance from the first three weeks of Premier League play, I’ve begun to see some similarities to another powerhouse here in the states: the Golden State Warriors. If you recall, the Warriors started their last season with an unprecedented 24-0 record. And this year, they have added yet another superstar to their repertoire in small forward (recently uncursed by Lil B) Kevin Durant. These two powerhouse teams reveal some striking similarities. Mind you, I write this having the utmost hatred for the Warriors.

Love for the Hometown Boys


Zlatan shoots, Zlatan scores. You’ll have to get used to that series of events.

The Warriors’ “big three” (Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Steph Curry) were all original draftees. Not only does Manchester United maintain love for their English players (Luke Shaw, Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling, Marcus Rashford), but they also bring back their old players that they know can perform for them (e.g. Paul Pogba). There’s something to be said about having a love and respect for your roots, even if it comes at a hefty price. International play will always reign as the most passionate soccer around, but playing club ball for the team that raised you in the country that raised you can be just as effective.

Willingness to Drop Bills

Manchester United and Golden State have both been under the brightest of spotlights for their offseason acquisitions. Kevin Durant, arguably one of the best small forwards in the game. Paul Pogba, the most expensive acquisition in soccer. Zlatan, living legend of Sweden. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Armenian playmaker extraordinaire. Eric Bailly, the defensive dynamo of Côte d’Ivoire. Take all of that talent in for a moment.

As someone with few talents, I recognize my limited marketability and resulting poverty. But these guys know talent because they are talent. And not only is the imported talent thriving, but current Man U players receiving them have looked phenomenal. When was the last time Antonio Valencia absolutely ran a sideline the way he’s been? How comfortable must Fellaini be to make his hair look even more ridiculous? Many critics express their fear of teams becoming “too powerful” as they stack their paper and frivolously throw it around, but Ws are Ws. And fans love those.

That’s what a 120+ million Euro handshake looks like.

Respected Leadership


Jose, how do you feel about Steve Kerr’s love of mom jeans?

I don’t respect Steve Kerr. I think he’s soft and probably loves acid washed jeans “for the feel”. But anyone who can get a bunch of arrogant Warriors to play small ball with the chemistry and dominance they do must have some training in leadership. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Jose Mourinho. A coach even Zlatan himself will acknowledge. Mourinho may be a dick sometimes, or a lot of the time, but he collected the talent he wanted and has turned a tarnished United side to gold. Eat your heart out, Louis van Gaal.

Competition for PT

One last thought. These teams ooze talent at every position. With so much talent, making the starting lineup is no simple task. Constantly upping the work rate and forcing players to push each other will result in a continuously optimizing first eleven. No slip-ups allowed in these regimes. You falter, there’s someone just as talented ready to snatch your spot. Eric Bailly will miss a few weeks to compete in the Africa Cup of Nations. You think Chris Smalling isn’t jumping at the opportunity to prove himself? Get real, nonbeliever.



Will the Warriors return to glory or will Lil B strike them down for his own entertainment?

Now, some of these similarities could probably apply to any successful team, I will not deny that. Furthermore, the Warriors have established themselves as grade A choke artists, crumbling three straight games in the NBA finals to my beloved Cleveland Cavaliers. They followed up by signing fellow choke artist Kevin Durant, who did something similar in his playoff run (to the Warriors, no less).

What will become of Manchester United as they face more formidable foes? The Manchester Derby is coming up and Man City looks equally dominant. But instead of dick pic-sending Draymond Green and whiny Steph Curry, does Zlatan/Anthony Martial/Marouane Fellaini have any trachea space for choking? To what degree does Zlatan outshine Steph Curry? He would probably say “to a mountainous degree” but in a more third person manner. Manchester United also has a history of greatness dating back to well before the Warriors birth in 1971. Only time will truly tell us what will become of these dynasties. Regardless of the trash I talk, there’s no denying these teams both make for some fantastic entertainment in their respective sports and you can be sure to find me watching Man U religiously until they start to disappoint.

Make sure to set your alarm for the Manchester Derby this Saturday, September 10th at 7:30 AM EST

Ben Fischbach
Lover of rugby, friend of soccer. Junior varsity legend. Look up my stats.

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