Jose Mourinho hinted at some interesting secrets regarding the Galatasaray squad selections, leaving a trail of pieces for fans to understand parts of what is currently occurring at arguably world football’s biggest club, Manchester United. With certain players selected and certain players omitted, Mourinho reaffirmed arguments that his final squad selections were strategically based on bringing the most fitness opportunities out of the players he plans to use this season. That means the players who featured in United’s squad selection against Galatasaray are likely to be a part of Mourinho’s plans this season, while those who aren’t (barring the likes of Chris Smalling and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, injured) have been told they can leave the club.
Mourinho’s squad selection, then, bodes well for the defensive trio of Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, and Antonio Valencia, all believed to be surplus to requirements at the beginning of Mourinho’s tenure. All three were seemingly destined to leave the club but it seems Mourinho gave all three a lifeline as fringe players. It also would benefit the likes of Juan Mata and Daley Blind, who, supposedly on the way out, both heavily featured in the pre-season. Mata scored one goal and provided two assists in his pre-season, while Blind started two of the three games.
Speaking to MUTV after United triumphed with a 5-2 win over Galatasaray, Mourinho seemed thrilled with the progress being made by the squad in training. Mourinho explained that the side is likely to play 60 games in a season, therefore, he must choose his squad sizing accordingly, and many players may be forced to depart as a result.
“If they were not in my plans I would not give them one single minute, I would not keep them in my squad.
“The squad is very competitive, the squad is very important for the season. We have 38 matches in the Premier League, we have the possibility of 15 matches in the Europa League, plus domestic cups, we are going to play 60 matches. So with 60 matches we cannot do it with 11 players.
“So to be in the squad you have to understand that the squad is more important than the individual, the club is more important than all of us, and to be in the squad you have to be ready for this, to play, not to play, play a lot, play less, play 90 minutes, play one minute, not be selected, everything is part of a squad life.
“And if you want to be in a club like we are, the club is much more important than us.”
While Rojo, Jones, Valencia, Mata and Blind likely slept well tonight, Mourinho’s news does not bode well for the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Adnan Januzaj, who were not chosen to play a single minute of United’s preseason fixtures. Many believed Schweinsteiger would become a greater leader at United, but he’s played less and looks lower down the pecking order than Marouane Fellaini. As for Januzaj, supposedly the next Cristiano Ronaldo under David Moyes, he has been unable to impress a manager who very much admired the Belgian during his time at Chelsea.
60 matches equate to only 660 starting games distributed over the course of the year. The lofty expectations on Mourinho to hand all the players at least 20-30 starts over the course of the season are sure to be one of his greatest challenges as Manchester United manager before it is added to the expectation to develop the club’s youth status. While he seems to be laying excellent foundations for the next three seasons, it is alarming that United’s players do not seem nearly fit enough with just two weeks and one friendly to go.