United kick-off the 2018/19 Premier League season at home to Leicester City on Friday with off-the-field shenanigans overshadowing their preparations for the game.

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Ed Woodward’s startling press briefing published in the Guardian on the club’s reasons for not backing Jose Mourinho in the transfer window left a sour taste, although it may serve to galvanise the manager and his players this season.

Quite what would possess Woodward to think he knows more about football than Mourinho is anyone’s guess, and it is fair to say that it hasn’t gone down well with many United fans.

However, there is little that can be done about it at this point in time and Mourinho has the perfect opportunity to make a massive statement by sending out a fired-up starting XI against the Foxes.

The Portuguese confirmed yesterday that he would be without Diogo Dalot, Sergio Romero, Marcos Rojo, Nemanja Matic, Antonio Valencia and Ander Herrera who are all injured, but United still have plenty of talent at their disposal.

New signing Fred is in contention to make his competitive debut, while Andreas Pereira could also start in midfield after impressing during pre-season.

Alexis Sanchez is also expected to be given the nod and he will be eager to please after failing to make much of an impact following his move from Arsenal back in January.

Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire are among a handful of players who are doubtful for the visitors, but new signings Ricardo Pereira, James Maddison, Danny Ward, Rachid Ghezzal and Filip Benkovic should all be available.

United’s hopes of getting their season off to a flying start look promising, particularly if their recent record against the Foxes is anything to go by.

The Red Devils have lost just one of their last 20 meetings with Leicester in all competitions, and with Mourinho having never lost his opening game of a Premier League season United are heavy favourites to win the game.

The Midlands outfit have lost on their last two visits to Old Trafford, with a 1-1 draw back in 2016 the last time they left with a point.

Goals by Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini helped United secure a 2-0 victory in the corresponding fixture last August. A repeat of that scoreline would be a good start after a difficult pre-season.

With the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea improving their squads this summer, it’s imperative that United lay down a marker on Friday.

The Woodward and Mourinho sideshow must not be allowed to detract from United’s bid to knock Manchester City off their perch this season.

Scoring a few goals today would be a great way to kick things off.

ManUtd-v-Leicester

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