With the Premier League about to kick off in a couple of weeks’ time, most teams are going through their pre-season preparations. Manchester United are no different, and they began this period with a 4-1 loss to Borrusia Dortmund. The game, however, was used more as a way to return to match fitness, and while too much emphasis is not placed on the results before the campaign has even begun, The Special One may well have cause for concern.
Mourinho, however, may need to look at some solid defensive cover. With the Portuguese manager seemingly bent on starting Bailly and Smalling, it might be in his best interest not to rely on Rojo, Phil Jones and promising youngster Axel Tuanzebe. Moreover, with United being linked with big time defenders such as Raphael Varane and Benedikt Höwedës, it’s looking more likely than not that United will pick up one defensive signing.
With Rojo looking to move to Villarreal in a deal worth £15 million and Phil Jones being so prone to injury, Axel Tuanzebe seems like the only competent defender to be able to replace Smalling and Bailly should any of them get injured. Daley Blind is another option, but judging by the first two pre-season games, it doesn’t seem like Mourinho favours him as a centre-back.
With the signing of Pogba looking imminent, United may need to let go of either Rojo or Jones and use the funds they recoup from the transfer to purchase a replacement. Failing that, Mourinho might have a couple of gems in the Under-18’s team with the likes of Roshaun Williams and Tyrell Warren, both of whom are considered absolutely monstrous defenders for their age.
On the case of Mourinho using the youngsters in the Under-18’s, Roshaun Williams is a very cool, composed, and athletic defender. Many of the fans who watch the Under-18’s will tell you that with the right development he could turn out to be a leading Premier League centre-half in five to ten years. Mourinho could use this sort of opening to silence those who criticise him about not showing faith in youngsters in his former teams.
Tyrell Warren is a much more accomplished defender in comparison with Roshaun Williams. All in all then, Mourinho has a good range of solid, competent, academy players to pick from. Another challenge for the new Manchester United manager will be the fact that he has got Europa League and he will need to retain solidarity throughout the United back-line.
Another position which the Old Trafford outfit have been heavily linked with is the right-back position. United have been rumoured to be interested in the likes of Alessandro Florenzi and Monaco’s Brazilian stalwart Fabinho. It has been quite surprising that members of the media elite have linked Mourinho with strengthening that position with United signing Matteo Darmian just under 12 months. However, it is understandable that Mourinho would like the freedom to bring in the players he feels fit the bill.
Alternatively, Jose could rotate between Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Darmian, but at this stage, such a decision seems fairly unlikely. Nevertheless, the young Dutchman has got to grab his opportunity with both hands and work towards being acknowledged as a first team player under Jose Mourinho, thereby building on a successful first team stint under Louis van Gaal.
If Mourinho goes by his word, then after the inevitable signing of a central midfielder – probably Pogba – any significant signings brought in will be replacements for departing United players. However, he cannot be held accountable for this if he sees fit to bring in one or two more players and decides to get of the deadwood in the squad. At the end of the day, the issue is quite open-ended.
Do you feel like Mourinho would need to further bolster the team if he wants to challenge for the title? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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