Jose Mourinho increasingly angry at Manchester United over lack of transfer activity
United boss fumes at lack of progress with new centre-half his main priority
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is on a fresh collision course with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward over transfers as he grows increasingly angry about a lack of activity.
Mourinho is desperate to recruit a centre-half next month and believes United's defensive woes this season have underlined the folly of the failure to strengthen at the back in the summer.
The transfer window is due to open in just over a fortnight and United's approach is likely to offer the clearest indication yet of their faith in Mourinho amid continuing scrutiny over his position and doubts he will survive beyond the end of this season.
Jorge Mendes, Mourinho's agent, issued a statement last week claiming United were "very happy" with his client, whom he said was going nowhere, following more reports about the club's interest in Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino.
But Mourinho distanced himself from that statement on the eve of United's wretched 2-1 defeat by Valencia in the Champions League on Wednesday and, after a summer when his centre-half targets were knocked back, he is growing more worried that he could again be rebuffed in the transfer window.
Mourinho would be willing to cash in on Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones to help boost his prospects of signing a pedigree central defender but fears little active work is being done on potential ins and outs.
United have been linked with Tottenham's Toby Alderweireld, Kalidou Koulibaly at Napoli and Milan Skriniar of Inter Milan.
In a separate issue, Mourinho is understood to have been annoyed that none of the key members of United's board - executive co-chairmen and brothers Joel Glazer and Avram Glazer or Woodward - were in Valencia to watch the game at the Mestalla.
With Juventus losing unexpectedly to Young Boys in Bern, United would have topped Group H and potentially had an easier draw in the round of 16 had they won. Defeat left Mourinho to claim witheringly that nothing he witnessed surprised him.
United have been 2-0 behind in 30 per cent of their matches this season and go into Sunday's game against Liverpool at Anfield trailing the Premier League leaders by 16 points.
A source close to Mourinho said last night: "Nobody important from the board of directors was there in Valencia. We are near the beginning of the transfer window and nobody knows anything.
"They are not working on selling players, they are not working on buying players. And they have 58 scouts and three scouting bosses. It is ridiculous. Jose believes this is not the best way to rule a football club."
A United spokesman confirmed that Woodward was in America on business on Wednesday night and that Richard Arnold, United's group managing director, was present in Valencia, along with Cliff Baty, the club's chief financial officer, and Collette Roche, the chief operations officer. Rebecca Britain, United's club secretary, was also present.
"Effectively they are the most senior people in the organisation under Ed," the spokesman said.
Nonetheless, Mourinho's associate was unimpressed. "What importance have those guys in team matters?" he said.
Mourinho is hoping he has players who are willing to play through the pain barrier against Liverpool with the United manager prepared to put his trust in some of his walking wounded at Anfield over the flops who failed him in Valencia.
David De Gea, Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young will all be restored to the starting line-up as Mourinho rings the changes.
Mourinho is hoping to be able to call upon at least one of Chris Smalling, Diogo Dalot or Matteo Darmian in an overhauled defence - all of whom were missing through injury against Valencia - and have Anthony Martial available again to sharpen the attack.
Luke Shaw will be missing again with a calf injury but the left-back is expected to return soon.
Sergio Romero, Rojo, Andreas Pereira, Fred and, the fitness of other defenders permitting, Antonio Valencia and Jones are all expected to be dropped along, in all probability, with Paul Pogba, whose audition for a starting place against Liverpool turned into another no show.
Bailly and Juan Mata have the best chance of retaining their place and Marouane Fellaini is likely to be used as a Plan B from the bench against the Premier League leaders barring any more injury setbacks. Romelu Lukaku may start if Martial is not passed fit. (© Daily Telegraph, London)