Mourinho at Man Utd: Three in, three out
Robbie Purves | May 23, 2016
With various outlets now reporting Jose Mourinho will be Manchester United’s next manager after the sacking of Louis van Gaal, it seems Old Trafford will now experience a summer of change with numerous comings and goings.
Mourinho has been openly courting the Old Trafford job since his Porto days and has a good relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson, routinely sharing a few glasses of red wine after their two teams meet.
However, influential board members were reluctant to give the Portuguese the job he so desperately craves. Sir Bobby Charlton has questioned Mourinho’s suitability to manage Man Utd with concerns over his behaviour but now seems certain to take over.
Mourinho is 6/1 to win the Premier League in his first season as United manager.
‘The Special One’ didn’t replace Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 because there were worries among the Old Trafford hierarchy about his behaviour and how it might reflect the image of a club like United.
Manchester City will have Pep Guardiola at the helm come next term and United need a character to compete with him. Mourinho has the arrogance and personality to take over the Red Devils and guide them out of a period of post-Ferguson gloom.
So, with Mourinho likely to arrive in the summer who will he bring with him and who will be shortly departing?
Romelu Lukaku – Everton
Mourinho loves a fast, strong, skilful striker and could get that in the form of Lukaku. Wherever he has been, the Portuguese has always had a striker in that mould. For example at Chelsea he had Didier Drogba and latterly Diego Costa. During his time in Italy he had both Samuel Eto’o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Inter Milan.
Lukaku respects Mourinho and has thanked his former boss for allowing him to leave Stamford Bridge in 2013, saying: “Everyone says it is Mourinho’s fault but it is not his fault because I made the decision. I went to his office to ask if I could go. He was the first one to say good luck.”
Belgium frontman Lukaku has also described him as “a great character and a great man”.
The 23-year-old has scored 25 in all competitions this season and will be one of the world’s most in demand players this summer. His potential move could see Wayne Rooney drop behind the striker with Anthony Martial remaining on the wing.
Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid
France forward Griezmann was heavily linked with a move away from La Liga, and Chelsea under Mourinho were known to be keen admirers of the 25-year-old.
The versatile attacker is quick, a skilled dribbler and possesses a superb talent for finishing. Since joining Atleti in 2014 from Real Sociedad, he’s netted 44 in 75 domestic games.
Griezmann has reportedly opened up about his desire to play in the Premier League. However, his release clause is reportedly around €80m which could deter United.
Raphael Varane – Real Madrid
Another Frenchman Varane is one of the world’s best young centre backs, and will be very difficult to prise away from Real Madrid.
Nevertheless, according to reports, Mourinho has demanded Varane as one of his first signings. The sacked Chelsea boss coached Varane when he was at Real and brought the France international to the Santiago Bernabeu from Lens in 2011. Now he is looking to convince the centre back to join him at Old Trafford.
Daley Blind forged an impressive partnership with Chris Smalling last season but his place may be under risk when Mourinho takes charge in the summer. The two-time Champions League winning boss may prefer a more fast physical presence at the back, but may move the superb ball player Blind into midfield.
Since arriving in 2014 from Chelsea, Juan Mata has won the hearts of United fans. His off-field activities, including his weekly blog and Youtube channel, as well as his understanding of the club’s history and fans, has endeared him to the Old Trafford faithful.
However, at Chelsea, Mata and Mourinho’s relationship soured and in the end the Spaniard claimed they had ‘no relationship’ with ‘no dialogue’. Mourinho saw him as a luxury player and favoured the more dynamic Oscar at Chelsea. When questioned by a journalist about being labelled a luxury player under Mourinho, Mata said: “If a luxury player is a player who scores and assists and has good stats, then I’m happy to be a luxury player.
Mata has played on the wing regularly for United and has shown a work rate that was perhaps missing in his Chelsea days. However, the incoming boss may feel the same about the popular player as he did at the Blues and could be moved on.
Since arriving in 2013, Marouane Fellaini has always felt like a square peg in a round hole. Bought for £27m, Fellaini has failed to impress during his time at the club and may be moved on in the summer.
Fellaini is too clunky to fit into any sort of Mourinho system and could lead the exodus of players likely to leave next season.
Phil Jones has failed to nail down a starting place and has been plagued with injuries since he arrived in 2011. Once thought to be United’s centre back pairing for years to come, only one of Jones and Chris Smalling has really taken their chance.
When Ferdinand and Vidic left there was a huge gap in the heart of defence that needed to be filled. Smalling, after a rocky start, took his chance and is now United and England’s first choice centre half.
His development compared to Jones’ is staggering. However, it could be said that Jones hasn’t been allowed to progress as injuries have not permitted.
Mourinho may come in, want to start over and clear the ranks, moving him on. It would be disappointing to see him leave after showing so much promise, but there is only so much waiting you can do for a player to ‘come good’.
However, there is some hope for him. Jones is a versatile player which is a characteristic Mourinho, like Van Gaal, values.