From day one, Jose Mourinho made it very clear about his aims in the transfer market saying he wanted specialists in certain positions and to strengthen what is already at the club.
“We made a nucleus of four priorities, four positions to give a certain balance to the squad, to give a certain push in terms of quality and the qualities I need and want.
“I am more a manager that likes specialists and not so much the multi-functional players because I am very clear in my approach. Multi-functional players are like one or two, when you are in trouble you need someone who can fill but basically I want specialists.”
He has backed this up by adding Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Eric Bailly, filling three of the four positions mentioned, as well as the potential addition of Paul Pogba a.k.a one of the most drawn out transfers of all time. However, it would seem that Mourinho is not done with just the four transfers, with it likely that a new, more established centre-back could well be on the way to Old Trafford. United had an apparent enquiry into Raphael Varane rejected by the player, according to The Mirror. This along with the fact Eric Bailly played a full 90 minutes in the loss v Borussia Dortmund, where he looked good and is likely to partner Chris Smalling in the upcoming game against Galatasaray, it could well mean the end of the road for one of Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones. Manchester Evening News believe that these two players are on a ticking clock in terms of their playing role at United and it’s running out because Mourinho wants to confirm his squad before the season kicks off.
Let’s start off with the man who has become more popular for the strange faces he pulls on the field rather than his performances, Phil Jones. Back n 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson said of Jones, “Arguably, the way he is looking, he could be United’s best ever player.” At the time, most people could almost see what the legendary manager was talking about, he was quick, powerful and played a big part in Manchester United’s title-winning season. Since then however, Jones has struggled to get a regular first team spot for two main reasons, firstly because he has struggled greatly with injuries and secondly, he is prone to making silly mistakes on the field. Playing alongside Eric Bailly against Borussia Dortmund he struggled to get into the game and was sloppy leading up to the first goal, meaning he was subbed at half time for the other struggler Marcos Rojo. Having only played 10 league games last season of which six came from the bench, he hasn’t had the best opportunity to prove himself to the new boss, which could well be a deciding factor in whether he gets another shot at the starting role.
Argentinian international Marcos Rojo has been on the receiving end of tons of abuse online often in regards to his poor toast making abilities but mainly because of his average at best performances in the last 12 months. This season gone he managed 16 league appearances for United playing at both left-back and centre-back but regardless of position, failed to impress the United faithful. In his first season at United, Rojo impressed with his hard tackling and passion for the team but ever since he picked up a few injuries he’s failed to put in a decent performance at United and has become one of the favourites to leave the club.
It looks more and more likely that Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly will be the starting central pairing for United this season unless someone else is brought in with more experience than the latter. It just remains to be seen as to whether it’ll be both Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo as the backups or whether one departs allowing Axel Tuanzebe to step up to the plate after impressing the boss in pre-season or another young player like Paddy McNair. All that seems to be clear is that Mourinho is still in the market for another centre-back unless he sees something that’ll change his mind about the current crop of talent on the books.