Managerial changes often mean a turnaround in playing staff. Every manager has the players they favour, the players they want to bring in that suit the style of play they wish to impose upon their new side. And where this is true, you really believe that with a squad as thin on numbers as Manchester United a cull would be best saved for the long run rather than here and now. Apparently not. The Sun report that Jose Mourinho is looking to ship out up to eight first team players from his new squad, and all with the goal of financing a move for Juventus star Paul Pogba and working with just 22 senior players.
Gone, I thought, were the days of selling players to fund the signing of another. With revenue set to hit record highs at Old Trafford, the coffers are overflowing with funds, I thought. But clearly, this is not how it will work for Mourinho. Rather than simply clearing out the deadwood he feels he must go beyond this in a pledge to assemble the players he believes will fire Manchester United back to the top of the Premier League. There is no doubting there are players that need to be shifted, Marouane Fellaini, Marcos Rojo and Juan Mata are three that jump straight to mind. But what is concerning is the others talked about in the Suns’ report.
The three I named are three that appear to be almost certainties for an exit this summer. Fellaini is nothing like the kind of player Mourinho likes and has had a target on his head for some time now. Marcos Rojo was poor last season when he was actually fit. A lack of ability to defend leaves him fairly useless as the defender he claims to be. And Juan Mata and Mourinho have previous. Nobody feared the appointment of the former Chelsea man more than the Spaniard. Beyond those three lie uncertain futures for others as Mourinho looks to whittle down the ranks and make room in his plans for Pogba. Adnan Januzaj, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Memphis Depay all suffered disappointing seasons last time around and Daley Blind is believed to be in peril.
Januzaj is an unfortunate tale. So much potential frittered away because of a believed poor attitude – it all got to his head the meteoric rise from nobody to hero under David Moyes. Bastian Schweinsteiger simply doesn’t have the legs anymore. His is a tale of woe, and one that I know many Manchester United fans wished weren’t the case, but the truth is he is now an expensive occupant of the physio’s room. Schneiderlin just didn’t seem to adapt. A player that can offer a good deal just never seemed to get used to life in the limelight. The same can be said of Memphis as it can Januzaj. Potential in abundance, talent oozing from him but all too much too soon. Hype is a dangerous thing for a young player who does not possess the temperament to deal with it. Should he exit then it could be the ultimate ‘what if’ scenario? Finally, there is Daley Blind. A player whose future shouldn’t be in doubt, he filled in fantastically at centre back all last season, and his passing range and reading of the game is phenomenal. Why he would be wanted in a squad the size Mourinho reportedly covets is completely lost on myself.
As disappointing as it would be to see the majority of the players linked with an exit leave, having a 22-man squad does show Mourinho is willing to have youth as the backup, which is wonderfully encouraging for fans. A risk, sure, but there’s nothing like a bit of a gamble in football. It’s bound to be a busy summer in Manchester, and with the European Championships finishing today, let the mayhem commence.