José Mourinho’s top five priorities

June 2, 2016 Tags: , , Reads 22 comments
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Old Trafford will bounce to the chant of “José Mourinho” for the next three seasons, with the Portuguese finally taking control of the club he has always wanted to manage. Mourinho might not host his first press conference until July, but the 53-year-old’s work is underway within a week of his managerial announcement. And there is plenty of work to do.

Mourinho has inherited a squad that is not built to win the league, with flaws in too many areas, and a group of players that have done little to earn a place at the club. Fans have gotten used to stale football, at home and on the road, while executive vice chairman Ed Woodward’s fumbling off-the-field has soured the club’s reputation in the transfer market. Can Mourinho help turn the club around? Rant looks at five musts for the new manager as he begins his Old Trafford reign.

Clear out the deadwood

There are too many players that ill-deserve a future at Old Trafford. Where Louis van Gaal started a transformation, Mourinho is likely to be ruthless clearing out under-performing stars. There is no room for sentimentality three years after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement; the new manager will remove any players not fit to contribute going forward.

The list of potential departures is not short either: Sergio Romero, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Daley Blind, Paddy McNair, Marouane Fellaini, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Adnan Januzaj, Juan Mata, Ashley Young and Memphis Depay will all wait nervously until the end of the transfer window. Any meeting with the manager might end with the news that a player no longer has a future at the club.

Not all will go, of course, but it’s already clear that not all can stay either. In finishing seventh, fourth and fifth, there’s a cultural and mental issue at the club. Those playing a part in the negativity need to go.

Decide Wayne Rooney’s future

The conundrum every manager has faced since Ferguson’s retirement: how to get the best out of Wayne Rooney. After all, Rooney is paid £300,000 per week, with £48 million remaining on the albatross of a contract signed when David Moyes was in charge.

Rooney no longer has the ability to play as a striker, having been surpassed by Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford in the squad. It is likely that any incoming striker, such as Zlatan Ibrahimović, will be of superior quality to Rooney as well. Yet, it’s doubtful Rooney has the vision or touch to perform at number 10 either.

In response, as has become the usual process with Rooney, the Scouser is likely to be crowbarred into another position. Given that Rooney has lost some of his physical talents with age a place on the wing is no longer an option – particularly with Mourinho preferring fast, counter-attacking, inverted wingers.

The most realistic option is central midfield, which worked to a point this season, with some good performances in the middle of the park towards the end of the campaign. Yet, Mourinho is also likely to sign a player who is a more natural fit in that role – if he employs it at all tactically – during the transfer window, with Miralem Pjanic reportedly on the radar.

Whatever his future role, the England and United captain holds significant clout in the dressing room and has never tolerated being benched. He’s also a brilliant marketing tool for Woodward, while his contract makes him a very difficult player to move on. Rooney will stay; where he fits is more difficult.

Wayne Rooney

Complete United’s transfer business early

United has spent the entirety of the Woodward era bumbling transfer business and scrambling at the last-minute to complete deals. It has, at times, embarrassed the club and ultimately too many of the wrong players have been signed. Desperation has not led to good results, as Radamel Falcao might prove.

Mourinho does not traditionally operate this way in the transfer market – on and off field the Portuguese is completely ruthless. History suggests Mourinho likes his business conducted swiftly, sometimes even before pre-season has resumed.

Media rumours about a number of potential recruits is par for the course – there are, literally, hundreds of stories of this nature every summer. It generates hits and paper sales. Yet, if Woodward – and Jorge Mendes for that matter – can come through early it will go a long way to kicking off Mourinho’s era in a strong fashion. The club is far enough behind the 8-ball as it is.

Bring excitement back to Old Trafford

Remember excitement? Fun? Joy? That feeling when fans are brought off their seats by the thrill of efficient-counter attacking, or superb passing and movement that creates a goal scoring chance. It feels like a long time since Old Trafford has enjoyed that feeling.

Despite his doubters Mourinho can certainly bring that back. In his three-year reign at Real Madrid, Mourinho’s side outscored Barcelona twice, eclipsing 100 goals and setting a La Liga record in the process. The manager’s best sides, apart from his defensive Inter Milan unit, were merciless counter-attacking teams, with speed and skill, that were built on a strong midfield and defensive spine.

That sounds like exactly the sort of thing United fans want to see!

Old Trafford

Prove the critics wrong

While not a priority compared to the aforementioned list, Mourinho’s motivation to move on from his failure at Chelsea is important. Mourinho has many critics, even fans now supporting him once chanted “f*ck off Mourinho” for years. Yet, he’s thrived on the hate of others for years too. He will certainly feel that as United manager, with the club the most widely despised – and loved – in England.

The club’s new manager will attract the hate of opposition fans for sure. After all, people have ached for United to fail for years, and will yearn for it once more if there is even a hint of the club returning to its former glory. Mourinho has the ability to prove his critics wrong, and make the hate stronger in the process. He will love it.

Feeding this dynamic is the control Mourinho has been vested, and his acceptance of the lead role at the club he has long wanted to join. Mourinho can shape the squad the way he likes, make them play the way he wants, and take down his rivals in the process. Now fans will get to see if he can pull it off.


bruk - June 3, 2016 Reply

One thing am sure of jose is. He will bring succes Back to THE THEATER OF DREAMS

Rich - June 3, 2016 Reply

Will he move that many players on this summer? I can see a lot of players moving on in January after Mourinho has had a chance to work with them a bit.

Adam Joseph - June 3, 2016 Reply

oh no not at all that many! there will be a lot of nervy players until the clearout is finished though!

Chris - June 3, 2016 Reply

You are dead on here. The only problem for Utd is that this is basically the same to do list for LVG.

Adam Rafiel‎ - June 3, 2016 Reply

why the fuck is Mata in the deadwood list

Henrik Asbjørnsen - June 3, 2016 Reply

Like you point out, when it comes to players Mou is ruthless, he knows who he wants, and he wants the business done quickly. This is exactly what Utd need going forward. No more passengers and no more square pegs in round holes.

Julian - June 3, 2016 Reply

Bizarrely you spend a whole para denigrating Rooney – which is quite normal for this site – and then conclude that a place will be found for him. This continual belittling is tiresome. Just ask yourself the question why did managers as diverse as Moyes, Hodgson, LVG and Mourinho regard “the scouser” as a key player. I’m willing to bet he’ll be first on JM’s team sheet next season. Time for a bit more respect perhaps?

Adam Joseph - June 4, 2016 Reply

why do you read a website you don’t enjoy? welcome to the world of opinions my friend. Rooney is crowbarred into the side, that is undeniable. of course a place will be found for him he is not going anywhere. time for you to read elsewhere perhaps?

Julian - June 5, 2016 Reply

Am I not allowed to disagree with you or anyone else who writes for this site? Are those the rules? Anyway your Rooney rant makes little sense – and that’s just my opinion!

Adam Joseph - June 6, 2016 Reply

well your lack of understanding is pretty clear..

SK - June 13, 2016 Reply

Well said @Julian

Dayusdred - June 4, 2016 Reply

“A place will be found for him” as if he doesn’t deserve his place. Four goals shy of Bobby Charlton’s club record. If everyone that has different opinion is advised to go and read elsewhere, wonder who will read it then? Oh, am the sixth.

Adam Joseph - June 6, 2016 Reply

the club record has nothing to do with deserving of his place. you’ll notice a lot of people agree with the Rant about Rooney, Dayusred.

Dayusdred - June 4, 2016 Reply

Sorry 4th not 6th. Seems people are already reading somewhere else..

Fusilli Jerry - June 4, 2016 Reply

1. Clear out Antonio Valencia and the rest of the deadwood.
2. Not renew the contract of Carrick or anyone else past their peak years.
3. Remove United from the market for Ibrahimovic and anyone else past their peak years.
4. Use Schneiderlin and Herrera properly, turn things around with Depay, and so transform United’s now toxic name in the battle fought with our direct rivals for transfer targets in their peak years/pre- their peak years. That reputation having become one of United as a place where you won’t get played regularly in your proper position and given a chance to settle down and succeed, where your club and international career will stall, before you have to leave and rebuild your reputation elsewhere.
5. Don’t repeat the Pogba Calamity ever again, by making sure United give players pre- their peak years already under our nose including Januzaj and Pereira, the same proper chance as Rashford ended up getting to fulfil their potential and help make Manchester United, Manchester United again.

pint vulger - June 4, 2016 Reply

Rooney head and shoulders amongst most in an average league,and would get into any team,yes he frustrates hopefully the new man will inspire him.
as for the squad I would like Moriniho to prove he is the great manager I think he is ,by adding 2 or 3 good signings and work with the rest,if LVG could get them to finish on the same points as City ! he surely can push them past Leicester .

Jay Wizzle - June 5, 2016 Reply

You guys need to stop living in the past. Rooney past his peak after 2011. His contract is asymptomatic of the club’s desire to prioritize marketing over football. He lost his pace, dribbling, stamina and now even his movement is not quite as insipired. His first touch remains insipid, and he is not defensively secure enough to function as a deep lying passer on a Mourinho side (though a place will probably be found for him there). He is not an awful player, but there is not a position on the pitch he plays that someone else in the squad cannot do better. He is actively holding back the team. I hope he breaks the record, gets all the accolades he richly deserves, scores a hattrick of transfer requests and moves to the MLS or China.

Rich - June 5, 2016 Reply

Rooney is undeniably a United legend. But this is obviously something a manager has to contend with. If any other player is dipping in form they can be dropped, but both Moyes and LVG didn’t have the nerve/stature/blessing to drop Rooney when it seemed most appropriate to do so. Getting the best out of Rooney should be about resting him when he is not playing well and giving him top class competition for his place.. Just like everyone other player. Man Utd is and always has been bigger than any one player. When Ferguson left Rooney became Uniteds most powerful (politically) player maybe ever. Besides his commercial revenue, his records and stature within the game has given him special privileges that Ferguson would surely not have accepted. I believe everyone wants to see Rooney playing well and scoring goals, but when that isn’t happening the club is not currently set up to respond accordingly. I think this is what Adam and all at rant cast have been getting at predominantly; correct me if I’m wrong.

Julian - June 5, 2016 Reply

And that’s how it should be. Where I differ is this theory that Rooney “enjoys special privileges”. I really don’t think that’s been the case. Don’t forget it was Moyes who had fallen out with Rooney and taken him to court over his book so had little reason, other than his worth as a player, to reject Mourinho’s Chelsea advances and to keep him at the club. Equally LvG had no reason to favour Rooney and then made him captain when everyone thought his favorite RVP would take that post. Then quite separate from United, Hodgson makes Rooney his captain and key player. What I disagree with is Rooney being singled out by a number of contributors on this site when in truth the whole team has been somewhat of a shambles these past three years. Also the continual use of the derogatory appellation “scouser” is common to most of these articles – despite the fact that we are talking about a United player who has always given 120% to the cause when donning the shirt.

In all this I’m not suggesting that Rooney is perfect or that he is the same dynamic performer of a decade ago. However I believe he still has a lot to contribute (principally as a No 10 actually) and Is adapting his game to a new role. Indeed I will be very surprised if JM does t regard him as a key component of his future plans.

Rich - June 5, 2016 Reply

Agree with you on the ‘scouser’ front. And you make a lot of great points. He obviously has something to offer to the squad and he is judged pretty strictly; maybe because he set the bar so high for himself over the last decade.

Who knows maybe he looked amazing in training or something but it did seem like there was a good patch of the season where Rooney was particularly shambolic.. In terms of percentages statistics as well as fan reaction. Yet he wasn’t dropped until pretty much every pundit agreed that he should be. I’d love to see Mourinho revive Rooney into a 25 goal a season power house player. I’d love to see him smash all the records and hold up the champions league trophy again as captain. I think we all would. At that moment Rooney would get more praise than anyone. I guess it’s only fair that as captain and club veteran he take the majority of the flack when things aren’t working out..

Julian - June 5, 2016 Reply

I don’t disagree with much of what you say. I think Rooney would be the first to put his hand up and accept responsibility which I think he has done. Despite being in a team going nowhere in particular during his captaincy, I do think he’s proved himself a capable leader. I think he’ll continue in that role under Mourinho although you could argue that there are no other alternatives such is lack of leadership throughout the team. It’s been a major problem and is laid even more bare on the occasions when Rooney has been out injured.

stephen_muturi - June 7, 2016 Reply

I have been on the Rooney critics bandwagon but you got to give credit to the guy for giving 100% on the FA final. That run from Rooney won us the FA. As someone pointed, the team has been shambolic the last three seasons so it is not fair to single out Rooney even though as a captain, he takes responsibility.

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