Since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, the enigma and X-factor at Manchester United has been on a considerable decline. After the disastrous regime of David Moyes in 2013-14, followed by two under-whelming seasons under Louis van Gaal, the United hierarchy have appointed Jose Mourinho, a manager whose CV boasts of titles wherever he has managed. One of the major challenges for Mourinho, in what will be the toughest job he has ever faced in his glittering career, will be to reshape the United squad that he inherited from van Gaal. Here’s a prediction at how another busy summer transfer window for the Red Devils could turn out:
1. Marcos Rojo
The ex-Sporting Lisbon defender was signed by Louis van Gaal following impressive performances for Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup to fill the gaping hole in the United defence left by the departures of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra.
Barring a few good performances in the initial phase of his United career, Rojo has been largely disappointing in the two years that he has been at Old Trafford. Apart from being highly injury-prone, Rojo has been egregiously out-of-form in an area which has been the hallmark of Mourinho’s teams, i.e, the defense. Rojo’s short stint at United seems as good as over.
2. Marouane Fellaini
Marouane Fellaini was the lone player signed by David Moyes in the summer transfer window of 2013, which is considered as perhaps the worst transfer window for Manchester United in the Premier League era.
The Belgian midfielder had a nightmarish first season as he went goal-less. His next two seasons under van Gaal have been comparatively better, though van Gaal bore the brunt of heavy criticism for continuously playing Fellaini, despite the player’s poor performance. The towering Belgian has had a few bright moments here and there, but has been nowhere near his £ 27 million price tag.
In all likelihood, Mourinho will bring someone like Nemanja Matic to United, which means Fellaini days as a Manchester United Player are all but over.
3. Juan Mata
Jose Mourinho isolated Mata at Chelsea by claiming that the Spaniard lacked the defensive abilities and the pace required for his clinical counter-attacking tactics. Mourinho has been stubborn in terms of changing his prefered formation, which is evident by the fact that he has used the 4-2-3-1 for the last six years.
Juan Mata has been one of the few consistent performers for Manchester United in the tumultuous three-year period after the retirement of Ferguson. But to include Mata, Mourinho will have to change his tactics and formation, which seems highly unlikely.
4. Memphis Depay
Depay came to United at the end of the 2014-15, after leading the goal-scoring charts in he Dutch League, with heavy expectations.
His one season so far at Old Trafford though, has been strikingly similar to Angel Di Maria’s stint with the Red Devils in 2013-14. After a string of impressive performances at the start of the season, Depay’s form took a steep decline. He was replaced on the left flank by Anthony Martial, who continued to impress on the left side and with the emergence of Marcus Rashford, Depay was sidelined to the bench.
Van Gaal did not even name him on the team sheet for the FA cup final, which indicated that Depay’s time at United was nearing its end. There’s still a possibility that Mourinho might revive the player given his young age, but it is quite slim.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been linked with Manchester United ever since he announced that he will be leaving the Parc des Princes at the end of the 2015-16 season.
With the appointment of Jose Mourinho, United seem to have ensured that the maverick forward will finally grace the English Premier League. United have been lacking a strong character in the dressing room and Ibrahimovic is exactly what United need. He will sharpen the blunt attack of United, which was dismal in front of the goal this season.
Mourinho and Ibrahimovic are a match made in heaven and after the recent press conference in Sweden, Ibrahimovic seems all set to be Mourinho’s first signing at Old Trafford.
2. James Rodriguez
After an impressive first season at Real Madrid following some terrific performances for Colombia in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, James Rodriguez has seen himself fall down the pecking order at the Bernabeu.
The attacking midfielder has found himself on the bench more often this season as he apparently doesn’t feature in Zinedine Zidane’s tactics. Also, Casemiro has now become a pivotal player in the Real Madrid midfield along with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. This has paved the way for a move away from the Bernabeu for Rodriguez.
United could do well to sign him up as he can not only create exceptional chances but also score spectacular goal from outside the box and it has also been reported that the Colombian midfielder favours a move to Old Trafford.
3. Raphael Varane
Despite Daley Blind and Chris Smalling having formed a decent partnership at the center of the defense, Mourinho will look to add a few established names in the backline. The primary defensive target for the Portuguese manager could well be Rapahel Varane.
Varane was brought in to limelight by Jose Mourinho when he was in-charge of Real Madrid in 2011. The highly-rated French center-back has not featured in the starting line-up under Zidane regularly and with the move favouring both sides, Mourinho would want to wrap up the deal quickly.
4. Joao Mario
Mourinho’s trademark 4-2-3-1 formation involves a solid central midfielder, who stabilizes the counter-attacking game play by providing support and balance to the back-four.
Mourinho will look to bring in Joao Mario from Sporting Lisbon so that he can have more options apart from Schneiderlin and old fox Schweinsteiger. Mario can be for Mourinho at United what Nemanja Matic was at Chelsea. He has the necessary strength and stamina to play at the base of the midfield which is evident by the fact that Mario has played for the full 90 minutes for most of the games that he has featured in.