Sunday 16 December 2018

Comment: Jose Mourinho's transfer complaints fall on deaf ears but his squad is strong enough for him to have no complaints

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho

Miguel Delaney

As Manchester United sources insist they refuse to over-pay as a point of principle, their manager continues to overplay one point.

Jose Mourinho has repeatedly spoken out about the club’s recruitment, and on Friday heavily implied the squad isn’t good enough to make the statement it should, and it’s impossible not to think he has a point.

United could do with an authoritative centre-half. United could do with one, if not two proper full-backs. It is surprising they have not signed either… but not substantially damaging, and that’s also where the complaints start to fade and ring evermore hollow.

With the way Mourinho talks, and the mood around United right now, you would think this is going to be a miserable season due to a poor squad.

But that really isn’t the case.

The majority of the United squad really does remain one of the best in the world.

Consider the attacking options alone. Mourinho has at his disposal an array of attacking talent that really is one of the most vigorously talented and healthily varied in Europe.

The focal-point striker in Romelu Lukaku giving power and further growth, while all of the other forwards can more than adequately fill in there while all offering other qualities themselves. Marcus Rashford brings pace, Anthony Martial top-quality dribbling and Alexis Sanchez that unpredictability and extra-level star quality.

Behind them is the creative inspiration of Paul Pogba and then a perfectly balanced midfield behind him in Nemanja Matic and Fred.

That really is the ideal sort of modern central trio and, if any of them are out, there are some very good alternatives who similarly offer different options. Ander Herrera is a battler, Juan Mata a purist, Jesse Lingard a goal-getting runner, Andreas Pereira a new source of delivery and Marouane Fellaini one of the manager’s favourites who is an important attacking weapon.

It really isn’t a stretch to think a coach like Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino or Jurgen Klopp could do something very exciting with that, and certainly more entertaining and promising-looking than Mourinho’s more prosaic side.

The prospect of more tedious football, after all, is something else feeding into the more downbeat mood.

And this is one issue with the transfer complaints too. Some of this just comes down to Mourinho’s very fixed idea for a team, that is arguably too rigid in the modern game. Because he has Lukaku, he feels as if he has to have a traditional right-winger - like Ivan Perisic - to feed him. This just isn't the case.

Those are the type of tactics he was employing in 2005 and they just look so rudimentary in the modern game, where wide players just do much more than that, in more sophisticated attacking approaches.

This also leads to the main problem with United’s window - that there is no cohesion of vision. There are just different views. Mourinho has wanted a player like Perisic, whereas it is understood Ed Woodward has attempted to raise with him the value of pursuing a young forward like Christian Pulisic instead - with all of the commercial potential incorporated into that, too.

The same problem applies in defence, where United don’t want to overpay for players whose limited jump in quality does not justify the outlay, whereas the manager just wants a certain type.

It ultimately emphasises how the old managerial model is deal. Either the head coach - as it should now be - either fully fits with the club’s plans, or you back him, or what’s the point?

It has left United with a slightly unbalanced but still deeply talented squad and - most importantly of all - a dissatisfied manager.

It is, in no sense, a cohesive vision.

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