With the January transfer window less than a month away, several Manchester United players have been linked with moves away from the club.
Memphis Depay, Ashley Young, Morgan Schneiderlin and Marouane Fellaini have all been the subject of interest from prospective new suitors, with the lure of regular first team football an attractive proposition for those players who have rarely featured for Mourinho this term.
Earlier this month the United manager made it clear he would not force a player to leave the club if they did not want to.
“I will not push anyone because nobody deserves that. The way they work, they don’t deserve that.
“On Wednesday I was in my hotel and my assistants came to Carrington to train the group of five who were not selected.
“They told me what I expected – amazing effort, amazing commitment, amazing professionalism. Depay, Ashley Young, Fellaini – the people who stay here were fantastic.”
But Mourinho’s latest squad announcement will test the commitment of a few of those players, particularly Memphis and Schneiderlin, who may have viewed this week’s final Europa League group game as an opportunity for long-awaited minutes in the Manchester United first team.
For Memphis and Schneiderlin it will be a particularly difficult blow as they were omitted from the travelling party entirely, while Ashley Young has been listed as a defender for the trip to Ukraine, suggesting that he will be acting as cover for tomorrow night’s clash with FC Zorya Luhansk.
Speaking after last week’s 4-1 victory over West Ham, Mourinho acknowledged the difficulty he’s had in selecting his squad on a week to week basis:
“It hurts me. It hurts me a lot to leave Memphis Depay and Ashley Young at home, it hurts me a lot, like it hurt me a lot to leave Martial and probably next week I will leave another one, we have so many players for these positions.”
Ashley Young has been linked with a return to his former club Watford, while Marouane Fellaini has attracted interest from West Ham United. The Belgian is edging closer to an Old Trafford exit after his calamitous mistake against Everton cost United a precious victory on Sunday.
Coincidentally it is Everton that have been pursuing both Memphis and Schneiderlin. The duo’s future at United seems precarious given their lack of opportunity this season and despite Mourinho’s suggestion that they will not be forced out of the club, the Manchester Evening News claim both will leave Old Trafford in January.
Memphis has started just one game all season, a 3-1 win over Northampton in the EFL Cup, while Schneiderlin has not started a Premier League match for seven months. Both players have made just eight appearances under Mourinho and have been constantly overlooked in each competition this season. It would appear the writing is on the wall.
While many people have written Memphis off as an expensive flop, the young Dutch forward remains determined to win over the doubters and create a future for himself at Manchester United. As the rest of the squad travelled to Ukraine, Memphis was working hard at Carrington, undergoing intense double sessions in an attempt to regain the trust of the coaching staff. The 22-year-old documented his workout on Snapchat with a clear message to the fans:
“Training done! Later another session I take you guys with me.”
Morgan Schneiderlin’s absence this season has gone largely unnoticed due to the controversy surrounding Bastian Schweinsteiger. The German international fought hard to make his return from a largely unnecessary exile, convincing Mourinho that he still had something offer the first team. It may be too late to save Memphis’ United career, but he’s still willing to fight for his chance for as long as he can. Schneiderlin’s quiet acceptance of this whole situation might be more telling than any of his contributions on the field. His time at United, along with several others, might well come to a premature end in January.