Tuesday 20 February 2018

Charm De Gea, overhaul of transfer policy and other issues facing Jose Mourinho at Man United

New Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho
New Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho

Rory Dollard

Jose Mourinho officially begins work as Manchester United manager on Monday, but he will take over a team still in considerable flux after two unconvincing years under Louis van Gaal.

Here, we assesse five of the most pressing issues.


It is hard to overestimate the importance of goalkeeper David de Gea to United's short-term prospects.

He is not only the club's best player - and possibly their only world-class one - but also a beacon to potential future signings. Holding on to him may be tough without Champions League football, but it would be the best piece of business United could do this summer and it may help that Mourinho and De Gea share an agent - Jorge Mendes.

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea celebrates after Martial scored their second goal. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Mourinho can command fierce commitment among those he values most, though, and if he can make De Gea believe in his cult of personality it could be the trump card the Red Devils need. The early signs are good, with De Gea telling Spanish radio station Cadena Ser in June: "I came to United to win trophies. It is true these last two years we have not been at the level the club deserves. We hope that Mourinho, with his will to win, will make sure United to return to the top."


Mourinho pitched to be Sir Alex Ferguson's replacement three years ago but was overlooked amid suggestions that important voices behind the scenes, including Sir Bobby Charlton, did not see him as a 'United man'. After failed experiments with David Moyes and Van Gaal, Mourinho's wish has come true.

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Bobby Charlton looking on as the South Stand is renamed in his honour Photo: Reuters / Jason Cairnduff

Instead of antagonising those who argued against his appointment, or crowing about the club's recent struggles, he must work overtime to win round his doubters. It has been too long since there was a true consensus and the Portuguese may have to play against type to build one.


MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 30: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Jose Mourinho, new manager of Manchester United, is shown round the Aon Training Complex by Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward at Aon Training Complex on May 30, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)

Since Ferguson and former chief executive David Gill departed in 2013, United's transfer business has too often veered between confused, rushed, and incompetent. They have allowed themselves to become a bargaining chip for agents, missed out on primary targets and been overcharged for others.

The investment in the past three seasons has been sizeable but the returns modest.

Mourinho is forceful enough to take the reins from Gill's successor Ed Woodward, or at least push him to be more effective. He is not used to seeing his shopping lists unfulfilled and will not want to start now.


Arguably the greatest success of Van Gaal's tenure was the number of academy graduates he blooded in the senior side, whether by design or circumstance.

Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard look ready to play big parts in the future, while Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Timothy Fosu-Mensah have also shown promise.

Marcus Rashford is part of an exciting crop of young talent Jose Mourinho will inherit at Manchester United

At Chelsea the most sustained criticism of the 'Special One' was his disinclination to promote players from the Blues' hugely successful under-21 team. United fans love to see locally developed stars emerge and would not be overjoyed to see Mourinho stunt their progress.


Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho makes his point to Juan Mata

United's FA Cup win would not have been possible were it not for Juan Mata's equalising goal in the 81st minute.

The Spaniard has made plenty of telling contributions in his time at Old Trafford but the feeling remains that he has never been treated as a central pillar of the side.

He would, therefore, be forgiven for thinking the arrival of the man who sold him to United in the first place was not great news. Mourinho certainly failed to warm to Mata at Chelsea but may need to revise his opinion.

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