One thing which is crucial to a team fighting to win every trophy in sight is squad depth. Manchester United are still fighting in four competitions, but can their squad last in all four as it comes to a vital point in the season.
As the January transfer window approaches many clubs including United are looking to strengthen their squads to go further and win more games. But looking at the current squad, can they last on all four fronts to bring United back to the glory days.
A strong Sir Alex Ferguson side would have two or three players for each position. Looking at what Jose Mourinho is doing to the current squad, I can see he is trying to do the same.
Firstly, considering the goalkeepers and the defenders, the team look very strong. David De Gea is one of the best goalkeepers in the world right now and he is doing a fantastic job of keeping United near the top of the table. Sergio Romero is a very capable understudy to De Gea and has featured in the various cup competitions this season. Sam Johnstone is on the fringes of the squad and is always there when the squad needs him. Goalkeepers do not seem to be a weak point in the squad.
Looking into United’s defensive set up it also looks strong there too. Mourinho’s first choice pair at the early stages of the season was Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly, but at various points during this season he has had to call on some less popular choices. The resurgence of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo over the past few weeks has been refreshing to see after Smalling and Bailly were out for different reasons. It’s also great to see them play so well and want to fight for their place in the squad whereas under previous managers they may have just sat on the bench and not have been bothered to play. Daley Blind has also done a good job at centre-back over the past few seasons and gives the manager another option. This shows how strong the squad can be at the back.
The full-back positions have been filled by different personnel at several points during this season. Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia have been the go to full backs for most of the season but the squad had many fall backs in that position. Matteo Darmian has played at both left and right-back for Mourinho at points in this campaign. At points, over the past few seasons, the manager has trialed different formations meaning that some wingers like Ashley Young have had to fill a full-back role.
Defensively, United look very solid and can have very capable understudies to fill in if the main squad member cannot fill their position for whatever reason.
Going onto the midfielders; in terms of depth Mourinho’s men look strong enough to finish a strong Premier League campaign. In a defensive midfield sense, the Red Devils have many players who can fit the role to a good standard. In the current formation, Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera occupy the two spots there. They have been doing a great job of holding the ball and creating good attacking situations for the players around them. Morgan Schneiderlin, despite him being linked with both Everton and West Bromwich Albion, and the forgotten man Bastian Schweinsteiger, linked to the MLS, can also fill this role to a good standard when they are needed. How could he forget Marouane Fellaini who has been making his way into the squad over the past few weeks?
Continually, the team looks strong in an attacking sense also. Mourinho has several players who can be swapped and changed in the attacking midfield and winger roles. New signing Paul Pogba along with Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney have filled the central roles this season. The manager has a variety of options when it comes to wingers in the current squad. Anthony Martial, Memphis Depay, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford have all filled the role across the competitions United have played in this season.
Heading onto the goal scorers, Mourinho has some top-class players to choose from. Goal machine Zlatan Ibrahimović has been a bright point this season, scoring goal after goal in all competitions. Wayne Rooney also gives the manager another option as his class is undeniable. Last season’s revelation Marcus Rashford has also been given his opportunity this season and hopefully his United career continues to go from strength to strength, despite him being played on the wing, at his request, to become a better forward.
Looking at the overall squad, it looks very strong. The players along with the manager want to do well and bring back the glory days to Old Trafford. Comparing it to the teams around the reds in the table. They struggle when it comes to injuries, for example when Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero gets injured or more recently suspended, Pep Guardiola’s side do not have another option with the similar qualities. This can also be said about Arsenal struggle defensively when Per Mertesacker or Laurent Koscielny get injured.
The January transfer window will show a lot of team’s intent after the Christmas period. Hopefully United can make a marquee signing to continue our recent good form.
Hopefully, Mourinho can get the best out of the squad and finish the season strong in all four competitions.
Written by Adam Harrison