Now that Jose Mourinho has officially announced via Instagram that he’s already started his first day at work, I’m sure many United fans are eagerly waiting to see what moves he pulls off this off-season. With the Euros coming up, you can bet Jose will be busy scouting for players to fit into whatever new system he plans to implement at the club next season.
But Jose had been around the game long enough, and has coached in most major leagues that he probably doesn’t need to wait for the Euros to already know some of the players he’d want at his new team. You can’t blame fans to be excited and imaginative in wondering what big names will come through the door now that Mourinho’s here, so here’s what the new United XI could look like if things go Jose’s way this off-season! (While trying to be as realistic as possible)
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
Convincing the 3 time player of the year, and the only United player currently on the roster who would make a World XI lineup, that United is still an elite club where he can stay and win the biggest titles, is probably the very first thing Mourinho should take care of note that he’s on the job. Without De Gea, lord knows how many 0-0 draws would’ve been defeats these past seasons, and how many 1-0 wins would’ve been points lost.
Back Four: Dani Carvajal (RB), Chris Smalling & John Stones (CB), Luke Shaw (LB)
A United back four with 3 English players…every United fans wet dream. This would immediately put Mourinho in the good graces of most fans and maybe even convert the skeptical ones. If Jose recruits the promising Carvajal from his old club, and sign the most promising young English defender since Rio Ferdinand, plus a healthy Luke Shaw who was showing signs of budding bursting out prior to a horrendous injury, he’d have built the strongest back four United have has since the final years of the Rio/Vidic era.
Midfield: Wayne Rooney (AM), Nemanja Matic (CM), Joao Mario (CM)
The time has come for Rooney to finally accept that his days as a primary striker are past. But that should not be seen as an insult as he has plenty left to give in a new role as the playmaker behind the front line for the new United lineup. Rooney has always been a brilliant passer, and, in recent seasons, his passing at times has been better than his finishing. Playing him in a Scholes-like role from now should see him continue to contribute well into the extended parts of his career, similar to Ryan Giggs. And, if Jose succeeds in his raid of Chelsea players, Matic would be the perfect fit as the new midfield enforcer at United. A modern day Roy Keane, Matic might very well be available after a poor season, and would be excited at the prospect of joining the manager who got the best out of him in his first season at Chelsea to begin with. And lastly, a name that has really caught on as a potential United target since Mourinho was officially appointed, Joao Mario of Sporting Lisbon. It’s hard to predict how well he would fit in to the Premier League since he’s only played in Portugal, but all signs point to him being a powerful, creative midfield engine. And the Portuguese ties with Mourinho should help him fit in to the country and squad quicker than most.
Wings: Anthony Martial (LW), Willian (RW)
The final weeks of this season has solidified Martial as United’s best (at times…only) attacking threat on the wings. With a season under his belt, and a manager who has a way of getting more out of his best players, Martial could be up for a special season as a key part, if not the star of United’s next era. And he could be joined by the sensational Willian. Willian was special at Chelsea this season, flying up and down the wing and terrorizing defenders all over. These two combined would give United more pace than they’ve had since Ronaldo was last seen skipping down the wings at Old Trafford.
Forward: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Some may prefer a younger striker brought in, but Zlatan is probably the most realistic given the stage of his career and relationship with Mourinho. And he’s hardly a consolation. Even at 34, he remains one of the very best strikers in world football, banging in a ridiculous 38 goals for PSG, with many of those ironically assisted by United’s most expensive transfer flop ever Angel Di Maria. (Maybe bring him back as well? He might be keen to give United another shot now that his worst nightmare LVG is gone…one can always dream)
Given the very believable rumours that Mourinho I’d likely to be handed a war chest with anything between £150-200 million, let’s see if this lineup could realistically happen.
1. Dani Carvajal, Real Madrid (likely fee: £20m)
2. John Stones, Everton (£45m)
3. Joao Mario, Sporting (£35m)
4. Nemanja Matic, Chelsea (£25m)
5. Willian, Chelsea (£60m)
6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG (free)
Total transfer fees: £185m
Even if Mourinho is given less to spend, we can expect funds to be raised by the sale of players who are unlikely to be part of his plans, with these being those he should ship off as quickly as possible:
1. Marouane Fellaini (£15m)
2. Ashley Young (£10m)
3. Marcos Rojo (£10m)
4. Adnan Janujaz (£10m)
And the player who most United fans will be heart broken to see out the door because he’s absolute class, but would probably be gone because (a) Jose doesn’t seem to like him; (b) he’s the only way we can get the players we want from Chelsea…
5.Juan Mata, in a part-exchange deal to Chelsea (£25m)
Total sales: £70m
From a dollars stand point, the deals at definitely possible. From a sense perspective, Carvajal is out of favor at Madrid, Everton and Sporting are unlikely to be able to hold off the offers, and Zlatan is probably the deal that’s going to happen first. That leaves Chelsea, who would certainly be reluctant to sell their best player to a rival, but let’s just assume they like Mata from his first spell there enough to go through with the deal.
With Rashford, Lingard, Depay, Schneiderlein, Bastian, Jones, Darmian, Fosu-Mensah, Borthwick-Jackson coming off the bench. A great blend of stars, experience and youth.
So there you have it, Jose Mourinho’s new era Manchester United. Look like a title contender to you? I think so.