Manchester United ended their three year drought by beating Crystal Palace 2-1 in the FA Cup final last month. That, however, did not stop the club from sacking Louis van Gaal and rumours of Jose Mourinho being his successor eventually turned out to be true.
The Special One’s appointment has raised hopes of both fans and players and made them believe that they will be in the title bid next season. But just bringing in a new boss won’t make that happen; the clubs needs some new and significant signings to really get in the race.
The transfer plan will, of course, be according to the way Mourinho wishes to line up and only two seem probable: 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1.
To me, the 4-4-2 system seems the most probable considering the latest Ibrahimovic situation. If the Red Devils manage to snap up the veteran Swede goal scorer, he could pair up with Martial upfront and prove to be deadly. With Martial’s dribbling and Zlatan’s finishing, Manchester United could be one of the most menacing teams of Europe. Down the right, Jesse Lingard prospered under van Gaal and often Mata was played but Mourinho would certainly need to bring in an effective winger. Mata finds comfort only in the #10 position and under Mourinho, chances are very slim that he’ll get to play there. Rooney could play in his new midfield role, supporting attackers with his visionary long balls. He could be paired with a deep lying defensive who would be comfortable playing box-to-box. A new signing could take up the spot but Blind and Schniederlin seem like the ideal choices at the moment. Down the left, well, Depay MIGHT be given another chance. The 22 year old Dutchman showed glimpses of his former self at times but had an unimpressive debut season at Old Trafford. His dribbling and control on the ball are excellent, no doubt, but he really needs to work on his finishing.
Mourinho is not known for developing young players but maybe he will adapt to this philosophy at United. In the defence, the signing of a new centre back to partner Smalling is imminent. Blind played there for most of last season but it seems unlikely that he’ll continue doing that under Mourinho. Villareal has reportedly accepted a £ 32 million bid from United for their 22 year old centre back Bailly. Manolas, Marquinhos, Stones and Varane may also be on the radar. At the right back spot, Darmian made a good start last season but then faded away with his injury. Fosu-Mensah was very impressive but is still young and may not get regular football. Many have touted Mourinho to convert Jones into a right back like he did with Ivanovic. Out of contract PSG right back Van Der Viel has also been linked with the club. Luke Shaw’s recovery from his injury will decide whether he will be able to make it at the start of the season or not. Borthwick-Jackson, who signed a new deal with the club, shone in the position last season.
The next most likely choice seems 4-2-3-1. The defence remains the same but in the midfield, Blind/Schniederlin pairs up with a new midfielder United may sign. Andre Gomes of Valencia has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford and so have Pogba and Nainggolan. Rooney could play behind the striker as a playmaker. Down the left, Martial could be deployed if Ibrahimovic is to play regularly and so could Depay, in case Mourinho choose Martial to lead the frontline. On the right, again, a new signing would be important since Valencia and Young have form and fitness issues.
Here’s something which may not happen but something that would be interesting to see – United playing a three man midfield with a deep lying defensive midfielder. They played this before under Van Gaal where Fellaini, Carrick and Rooney were used and while it wasn’t very effective, the presence of a different pair with Rooney might spice things up. Rooney with his excellent balls supported by a new signing and Blind or Schniederlin supporting the defence and getting the ball forward when needed, somewhat like the system Barcelona uses with Busquets in the deep role. In the attack, again, Mourinho would have the option of Depay-Martial-New Signing or Martial with two new signings. I know this is a little out there and Mourinho certainly doesn’t seem like the kind of manager who would like to use this kind of a system but the thought really intrigues me as to how this would eventually pan out.
When Ferguson left the club three years ago, he left an ageing squad which was dependent on him. His successors completely failed to replace both him and the players and saw the three most forgettable years in the club’s history. Players like Van Persie and Chicharito were allowed to leave and not enough players were signed. The high profile signings of Schniederlin, Bastian and Depay proved to be mere pomp and show as all three of them could only show glimpses of what they were at their former club. Injuries made things worse and while the FA Cup is in their kitty, the fans certainly expect more happening matches.
BY ANKISH (Intern)