Manchester United Manager Jose Mourinho was recently given a contract extension, which will keep him settled at Old Trafford for the long term, but clearly he has a lot of grievances with his current situation. He’s been acting particularly peculiar the last few days.
He spent about 80% of his Friday news conference on a bizarre monologue that questioned United’s “football heritage.” The next day, despite winning 2-0 over Brighton & Hove Albion, and thus securing a place in the FA Cup semifinals, he completely ripped into most of his own team on multiple levels, saying that they lacked class, personality and desire.
He once again hit out at Luke Shaw, a player he’s thrown under the bus a couple times previously. It’s the classic type of behavior we’ve come to associate with in his infamous “third season syndrome” at many of his previous clubs, except it’s coming in the midst of year two. What we hear and see in public could be indicative of what’s going on behind the scenes- a Mourinho who is now disgruntled with his current team would be looking to make a major roster shake-up this summer transfer window.
An ESPN report today, claiming that we “could see as many 10 departures and arrivals at Old Trafford,” seems to verify this idea.
The ESPN FC article claims that Mourinho is looking to rebuild the side in his mold, and overall go younger with his clear-out and shake-up. The article says that on the arrival side Mourinho is looking for “at least four players aged between 25 and 28 to improve his options.”
On the potential departure side it states that: “United will listen to offers for Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind and Andreas Pereira, with Chris Smalling, Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata also facing uncertain futures if Mourinho is able to secure his targets before the start of next season.”
No surprises there with Shaw, for reasons aforementioned, or with Smalling, who’s severe decline in form has inspired ire in United supporters this season. Likewise with Darmian and Blind, who don’t see much first team time these days. However, it’s very surprising to see the names Herrera (last year’s United player of the year), Martial (a young promising scorer with high transfer market value) and Mata (an important dressing room presence and team leader) mentioned as potential departures.
Paul Pogba, constantly rumored to be on his way out this season by multiple news outlets, is reportedly safe. That’s not shocking though, as the French midfielder is extremely critical to what United should/need to do tactically in order to be successful.
There will obviously be a significant amount of turnover this summer, as it’s clear now that this current roster of players cannot close the existing gap between United and Manchester City/the most elite teams in Europe.
Mourinho knows it, and he’s well aware that United Executive Vice President Ed Woodward will once again hand him a massive war chest to compete in the transfer market (even if he complains it’s not as big as City’s, which he will).
In terms of position needs, United will no doubt look at midfielders first, both holding and attacking. Michael Carrick has announced his retirement. Marouane Fellaini still faces an uncertain future contractually. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s United career and maybe his European career in general are over. Thus far, the Alexis Sanchez acquisition has been a disaster, so look for Mourinho to try and add another attacking player, most likely on the wing.
Last summer, the one position of need they failed to meet was attacking midfielder.
Also, if numerous defenders are to move on, as the ESPN article has us believe, then they will have to beef up the back line this summer in order to replace the departed players.
For possible summer transfer targets, the article mentions Tottenham full-back Danny Rose, Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred and Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.
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