Gary Neville says Jose Mourinho must continue to work on his squad and must start by getting rid of the players who do not meet the standards of the club. The new Manchester United manager spent over £150m this summer on four new players. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eric Bailly, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan joined United before Paul Pogba completed his world record transfer on the eve of the new season. Despite the large price tags and arrival of some established world stars, very few players left Manchester United this summer, leaving Mourinho with a bulging first team squad. Club legend Neville claims Mourinho has a tough job trying to fix the imbalance within a squad that has been dogged by poor recruitment since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.
“He’s unravelling what’s gone on here in the last three years with what I think has been bad spending by the club, simple as that. Now he is trying to correct it.
“I do like two or three players that he has signed this time. I like Pogba, he will come good, I like the fact Zlatan’s got a big character, I like Bailly.
“I think there are players there that have got the profile that fit the Manchester United stature but there are still some here that haven’t got the profile.”
Throughout the summer speculation was rife surrounding several United players. Some, like Juan Mata and Daley Blind, have impressed so much during the opening weeks of the season that their future at Old Trafford seems secure. For others, the new season has been a curse rather than a blessing.
Neville did not specify which players do not fit the right profile, but there are several United players who do seem to be playing for their futures. The likes of Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin, and Memphis Depay have struggled for game time, Marcos Rojo has appeared well off the pace in his recent, rather abject appearances, and Phil Jones continues to struggle to stay fit in a bid to prove his worth to the new manager. All of that before we even start to untangle the situation surrounding Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The majority of United fans would tend to agree with Neville’s comments. There is a significant amount of deadwood in the squad and Mourinho will need to trim it in order to work with a more desirably sized group of players.
While Darmian has been ousted from his right back role by the in-form Antonio Valencia, he still seems an able defender. Morgan Schneiderlin has struggled for game time in a midfield that is stacked with talented players, while Memphis has flattered to deceive in his first year or so in Manchester and needs to prove himself sooner rather than later, despite his tender age.
Each of those players must take what opportunities come their way, though. Mourinho cannot carry any passengers and Neville is right when he insists there is a correct ‘profile’ for a Manchester United player.
Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones look to be losing their particular battles. Rojo has looked off the pace and out of sorts this season, unable to impress on any occasion when called upon so far. Quite honestly he didn’t impress too often last season either, whether that was at left back or as a central defender. As for Jones; his attitude on the field has never been called into question, but if he cannot stay fit enough to be considered for selection, how long can he expect to remain an employee of such an illustrious football club?
Throughout his career Jose Mourinho has never shied away from the tough decisions. At Real Madrid, he dropped club legend and Spanish World Cup winning captain Iker Casillas. At Chelsea, he dropped (and then sold) player of the year and fan favourite Juan Mata. So far at Manchester United, he’s broken a world record transfer, dropped a World Cup winner and benched the club captain. If there are players not pulling their weight and not meeting the required expectations, this manager will move them on. It is that simple.