Operation clearout: 10 players Mourinho should sell this summer

March 25, 2016 Tags: , Reads 47 comments
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Winter is coming. José Mourinho’s cold stare and stone heart is set to be unleashed on a failing Manchester United squad. The Portuguese will find the basis of a moderate team, although one shorn of almost any world-class talent, despite more than £250 million spent over the past three years. In the place of true quality comes a misfit collection of wasters, shirkers and frauds – or at least Marouane Fellaini, Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones. On the precipice of permanent decline, the club must move on and that surely means another round of change this summer. Old Trafford’s revolving exit calls for these 10 players …

Ashley Young
Is Young one of the worst players to complete five seasons at the club? Certainly, he is one of the most mediocre. Young’s effort wins praise – fans and God, it seems, love a trier – although the former Aston Villa winger provides far too little output for his £110,000-per-week contract. Young’s first campaign at the club brought seven goals and a similar amount of assists – it was by far his most productive season in Manchester. In the four seasons that followed the totals read: 0/3, 2/1, 2/5 and 0/2 in Premier League and European competition. Or, for the £14 million fee, United has been rewarded with 11 goals and 18 assists – £1.3 million in fees and wages per goal created or scored. True, Young has a certain flexibility and has appeared in five different positions this season. It is both a pity and an inevitability that he has also been short of quality in each. Potential fee: £5 million | Wages off books: £5.7 million per season | Waste-of-space factor: 9/10.

Marouane Fellaini
The Belgian has become the poster-child for the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. Acquired at a hugely inflated fee, for a reason that nobody understands, Fellaini has proven to hold only two qualities: his left and right elbows. The 29-year-old is a dreadful defensive midfielder – incompetent in the tackle, weak in the pass, and a cowardly bully prone to throwing the aforementioned pointy appendage. In more advance roles Fellaini’s usefulness boils down the a manager’s willingness to ‘go agricultural’. It is just not the United way. Fellaini is patently a standard below what has come to be expected at Old Trafford, and both player and club will benefit from moving the Belgian on. The player’s mooted transfer to AC Milan fell through last summer, but any bid into double-figured millions is likely to prove attractive as the club tries, once again, to move on from a disastrous three years. Potential fee: £12 million | Wages off the books: £4.2 million per season | Waste-of-space factor: 9/10.

Phil Jones
The man, the myth, the legend. They say he is a physio’s best friend, but if a footballer never players, can he really exist? Jones had talent, once, although it is hard to recall when it was last fully applied in a United shirt. In more than five years with the club the Lancastrian has progressed little; still a player who features far too infrequently for reliable service – and is far too unreliable when he is actually fit to be pressed into a regular service. It is a paradox wrapped inside a frustration. If Jones was a horse he would be slated for the knacker’s-yard. In footballing terms that’s a transfer to a mid-ranked Premier League side, for a medium-sized fee. Jones may have signed a new five-year contract last summer, but all parties will be better off by moving on. Potential fee: £10 million | Wages off the books: £3.9 million per season | Waste-of-space factor: 7/10.

Phil Jones

Wayne Rooney
Once England’s golden teenager, the great white hope. Now, a washed-up striker a long way from the world’s élite. Rooney has made 32 appearances across all competitions this season, scoring 14 goals and providing four assists. It is a reasonable return in yet another injury-disrupted campaign. Yet, the former Evertonian has scored just three times against teams in the top half of the Premier League: Stoke City, Liverpool and Everton. Nine of Rooney’s goals have come against undeniably weak opposition: Club Brugge, Derby County, Ipswich Town, Newcastle United, Sunderland and Sheffield United. Moreover, it is not as if this pattern is a recent conception; Rooney’s goalscoring record per game has declined year-on-year for the past three campaigns. True, Rooney is both a marketing asset and a flexible player – both qualities that are now in decline. Rooney can no longer be considered élite at any level, let alone on the global stage. Indeed, Rooney is now neither the best striker, winger, number 10, nor midfielder at the club, while earning by the far the highest wages. Potential fee: £5-10 million | Wages off the books: £15.6 million per season | Waste-of-space factor: 7/10.

Antonio Valencia
What to call a winger that cannot cross and a right-back who cannot defend? Valencia! The Ecuadorian is far from the player who provided 13 assists in the 2011/12 season. Then, Valencia’s golden age as it turns out, the Ecuadorian’s right-football crosses were frequently met by Rooney’s bald-pated headers. No longer. Valencia has shrunk into himself, neither confident enough to attack his opponent, nor skilful enough to whip in those crosses of old. Today the player is a utility full-back, whose crass lack of positioning often causes his team-mates trouble. It is a wonder that the 30-year-old is so popular with lame-duck manager Louis van Gaal. Then again, Valencia’s one talent is the safe five-yard-pass. Should be sold to a mid-ranking European club for a small-sized fee. Potential fee: £3.6 million | Wages off the books: £5.7 million per season | Waste-of-space factor: 7/10.

Marcos Rojo
The Argentinian has suffered a disastrous season, albeit one largely unnoticed. Amid higher-profile failures, Rojo has almost gotten away with a stinker of a campaign. Rarely fit, rarely reliable, Rojo is neither United’s best left-back nor is he trustworthy in the centre. Injuries have, of course, hindered his progress, but there was always a suspicion that the player’s heart outweighs his true ability. Signed for some £16 million, United will do well to collect an eight-figure sum if the former Sporting player is sold on to a continental club during the summer. It is unknown whether Mourinho holds a soft-spot for the tough-tackling player, although the new manager is unlikely to respect Rojo’s lack of consistency. Potential fee: £8 million | Wages off the books: £3.6 million per season | Waste-of-space factor: 6/10.

Marcos Rojo

Nick Powell
The new Frank Lampard, or something like that. Powell came with the Crewe Alexandra youth product seal of authenticity. Sadly, the youngster’s lack of development means a move is almost certainly on the cards this summer. Powell has featured just nine times for the club over four seasons, including one of the most bizarre substitutions in recent memory – his entrance in place of Juan Mata with United losing at Wolfsburg in the Champions League last December. Powell has also suffered more than one failed loan spell, including a period at Leicester City in 2014 where he was sent back to United amid accusations of holding a poor attitude to training and time-keeping. Potential fee: £1 million | Wages off the books: £0.5 million per season | Waste-of-space factor: 6/10.

Michael Carrick
Once a Rolls-Royce player in the stock car race that is the Premier League. Carrick’s ease on the ball, positional sense and ability to recycle possession from defence to attack has long been under-rated by observers less studious in the subtler arts of the game. Still, time waits for no man and certainly no footballer. The autumn of Carrick’s career is closing in, and where the head may still work, the Geordie’s legs have gone. In midfield Carrick is too often swamped unless braced by younger more mobile legs. In defence Carrick is an error-per-game player. With the 34-year-old out of contract in the summer it appears likely that the former England international will leave Old Trafford after 10 seasons and more than 400 appearances. Potential fee: £0 million | Wages off the books: £4.2 million per season | Waste-of-space factor: 4/10.

Will Keane
Almost five years after making his début for the club Will Keane has recorded just three appearances in the first team. Once a talented youth team striker, Keane has suffered more than one unlucky injury in recent times. It has certainly hampered the 23-year-old’s professional development. Still, in more than 50 appearances on loan with Preston North End, Sheffield Wednesday and Queens Park Rangers, Keane has netted just five goals. The proficiency of youth has turned into the profligacy of a career now on the racks. Keane desperately needs to move on to a Championship or potentially even lower level club. Potential fee: £1 million | Wages off the books: £0.25 million per season | Waste-of-space factor: 3/10.

Patrick McNair
There’s no doubt that the Irishman holds some talent, although this has been a campaign of regression for a player who had seemingly made the breakthrough in Van Gaal’s first season at the club. McNair has featured in just nines game this year, across a range of positions. Even in a campaign where injuries to defenders has been a weekly occurrence the 20-year-old is no nearer to commanding a regular place. With United certain to spend on a central defender this summer McNair could well find himself on the sidelines next season. At a minimum a loan beckons, although the club could well choose to cash in. Potential fee: £3 million | Wages off the books: £1.3 million per season | Waste-of-space factor: 3/10.

Data: whoscored.com, ESPN, transfermarkt, totalsportek


Thorsten Soentjens - March 25, 2016 Reply

Harsh sometimes but so true…..missed Mata in this…..

ScottC - March 25, 2016 Reply

Agree with 8 of your 10! Rooney/Carrick both well past sell by dates~would keep for another yr to help transition into next era.

Nav Rahal - March 25, 2016 Reply

Rojo, Jones, and McNair? I mean really?

Stuart Niven - March 25, 2016 Reply

the author of this must have been some player!!

NazManUnited - March 25, 2016 Reply

Spot on but I’d keep Rojo as a squaddie he’d be ok with Mho Blind Should he survive?

Matt Christie - March 25, 2016 Reply

Spot on. Is mcnair wages right and why isnt mata on the list?

ewuga peter esson - March 25, 2016 Reply

add your comment here how on earth vangaal will coach a team like mantd will not stand the players are playing any how no disciplines no incouragement from the coach no achievement only waste mantd money ask Woodward know every thing that is going on with vangaal that is why sacking vangaal is a problem to him

John - March 25, 2016 Reply

Juan Mata should be first out the door. A wonderfuly gifted player like Berbatov but also same flaws as Berbs such as only turning up in 1 out of every 5 games. Doesn’t have the mobility or mental strength for an elite club

Ian Cox - March 25, 2016 Reply

hard to argue with that in fairness

pius - March 25, 2016 Reply

Darmian must leave!!!!!!

devilinthisguy - March 25, 2016 Reply

Rojo can go, maybe Mata too. Am still baffled how LVG can spend 250mil n we talking about a clear out already. Besides Herrera, Martial, Scnederling

devilinthisguy - March 25, 2016 Reply

And Shaw the rest of his signings have been average at best. Blind is good but we,ll never know his beat position bcos LVG hates playing players at their favourable positions. This Jose M news going round might just be what’s best for United. Shame cos LVG had all the hallmarks of a United Coach but inexplicably sabotaged his own United career with way too many bad decisions infact LVG has made more bad decisions in a single season than I have ever seen he is so much alike as DM in this department. Baffling subs playing shit players while better ones sit on the bench, selling players with no real idea on who to replace them with. I mean this guy let Di Maria leave ffs.

Twat - March 25, 2016 Reply

The only shock here is that you underrated Fellaini; by that I mean he’s a clear 10/10.

Justdatguy - March 26, 2016 Reply

I’ll have to agree every single one of them except rojo, the guy is great and fights for the badge not many players do that. He’s far better than phil Jones imo

Denton Davey - March 26, 2016 Reply

Yeah, I agree about Rocky – but, like MrJones, he seems to get injured a lot.

Trewby Kaumba - March 26, 2016 Reply

Deal about Jose confirmed?

Allan - March 26, 2016 Reply

Mourinho should keep Rojo, Valencia and will kean but dermian should leave

Allan - March 26, 2016 Reply

But the rest should go the ones appointed to leave in could captain

Andi - March 26, 2016 Reply

Replace Rojo with Blackett and youve nailed it! Also, Bastian may coming to an end. Can you make an article on who well bring in? Imo, we need one cb, two cms, and one forward.

Match of the Dan - March 26, 2016 Reply

I don’t disagree with any, but this isn’t Fifa. We can’t replace half the squad in one summer and buy world stars.

Matt Wing - March 26, 2016 Reply

completely agree. No idea why some are asking for Darmian to go though. He was great early season and will flourish under Jose

dude - March 26, 2016 Reply

I’d hv Mata in there personally. Gr8 when we r playing well not so much in a dog fight. Too slow and strenght of a 12 yr old.

jim - March 26, 2016 Reply

No problems with the players you highlight here Ed, but you are becoming like the daily journo’s unless you have 100% proof of the Mourinho invasion. jim

Iain Owens - March 26, 2016 Reply

Fergie was a master at balancing a squad, no point getting rid of some of those players as it would cost more to replace

Pint vulgar - March 26, 2016 Reply

Astonished at some of the observations,well at least suprised.Cant see the value in letting Young ,Valencia,Jones Carrick ,you woukd get next to nothing for them and they imo more than reliable squad ,probably add Rojo to the list too.
Mata,Januzai,Schweinstiger, would be my departures included.
There is no way any manager would shift on Rooney just yet,other than to get rid of the obscene,outrageous salary,in fact I would renegotiate that and if he refused then he would be flirted.
2 ,2 and 2 needed for me ,right down the middle.
All this of course if the main man is appointed,my worry that the Fergie influence could scupper what is the biggest cross roads since the post Busby era,and I rememeber all too well what a cock up that was.

Banforth - March 26, 2016 Reply

i would add Schwein. A big disappointment. Vigorous pointing is no substitute for physical mobility.

Seun - March 26, 2016 Reply

I agree with most of it but you left out the second biggest waste of money AND space at the club…. JUAN MATA. 37 million pounds and he’s only had ONE signature game in 3 seasons. Liverpool at Anfield. It’s very easy to see now why Mourinho was so amenable to selling him to United. Because he knew just how bad and overrated Mata was. 37 million pounds? Daylight Robbery. He’s the slowest, weakest player in the squad. Not good enough to play at 10 (and he has played there for a good 4-5 months now so no excuses) , not versatile enough to play anywhere else. MUST be sold this summer. He is not a Manchester United player. End of.

I would also keep both Rojo and Jones simply because they can be decent backup squad players. This article is judging them as first 11 CBs which they are not. Rojo in particular has been badly misused by LVG just like a few good number of players in the squad since the man took over. He is a solid enough player to be a good backup here at United. Just to remind you of some of the backups we’ve had even during the title-winning era Jonny Evans, pre-2014 chris smalling, Wes Brown, Alex Buttner, etc so don’t tell me he’s not good enough to be a back up.

Seun - March 26, 2016 Reply

I would also keep Young and Valencia in squad capacities because nobody is going to pay more than 5 million for either player and we’d pay through our noses to find decent squad replacements. They both have their uses in the squad. they just cannot be starters.

Denton Davey - March 26, 2016 Reply

Totally disagree – I’d rather have “kids” playing than these two who have occupied first-team places when they’ve given third-team performances.

The problem with keeping Young/Valencia is that they are both on HUGE wages and flatter-to-deceive when they play – Young has ZERO end-product; Valencia can’t cross the ball to save his life.

Manny - March 26, 2016 Reply

They are still in contract so United can do nothing if they decide to stay until those contracts run out. Now if you are over 30, your career is on the wane and have little chance of earning the same money again would you agree to leave? Young and Valencia are going nowhere this summer

Redzebs - March 26, 2016 Reply

The forums broke……..

devilinthisguy - March 26, 2016 Reply

Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Luis Enrique all somehow studied or played or at sone point had to take instruction from LVG. So he is by no means a crap manager my point is I think Giggs should be manager. There’s nothing the aforementioned can or has gone as far as playing career that Giggs hasn’t. So why can’t we trust him to manage United? Seems like we all been looking for a saviour and he could be there all along.

Manny - March 26, 2016 Reply

Mourinho s not being signed as a player.

Just because LVG was a good manager 20 years ago (when Mourinho briefly worked for him) doesn’t mean he is any good now. LVG has managed to produce the most imbalanced squad United have ever had. This is demonstrated by him having the best defensive record (in terms of goals conceded per game ratio) of any Manchester United manager since 1900 (0.85 goals per game) and the worst attacking record (Goals scored per game ratio) in 90 years of any United manager (excluding the post Munich tragedy period when Jimmy Murphy was in charge) at 1.38 goals per game. Not only that but for only the 5th time in 90 years United are on target to score less than 50 league goals. LVG’s assistant during the period (which could be called the Anti-Man United era) for better or for worse was one Ryan Giggs. Do you want to promote someone who has been integral to the coaching of the squad during one of the worst periods for attacking in United history?

Now compare Giggs record of just 4 games in charge compared to Mourinho’s 4 countries (and 765 games) in charge with league titles in each country and over 20 titles and trophies overall making him the most successful manager of the 21st Century so far. So you have a management novice with a dodgy record as assistant manager compared to the world’s best. Its no contest really is it?

PS Mourinho’s Win Ratio at 66%, (64% in England) is better than any United Manager (LVG = 50%) and better than any current or recent past top EPL manager, his defensive record in England at 0.75 goals conceded per game is better than any previous United manager and his goals scored per game ratio at 2.03 (1.77 in England) is as good as Sir Matts and Fergie’s respectively . Given those stats United would be mad not to sign Mourinho because if they miss out on him this time I doubt they’ll ever get a chance again and as the share price proves (down 30% since November) United are desperately in need of a major boost something Giggs just cannot provide,

Denton Davey - March 26, 2016 Reply

I just don’t see the logic in that GiggsForManager argument.

SilentRyan has been the #1 assistant for the past three years so, surely, he’s got to be given some blame for the dross that both of his bosses have produced – just sitting there, looking bemused, isn’t the kind of resume that is credible.

Has Giggs agreed with Moyes/LvG ? or has he not had the balls to come out publicly to state – in no uncertain terms – that it’s just not good enough ? At least Paul Scholes has done just that and he has been consistent in his comments whereas SilentRyan has just sat there, Sphinx-like, at both managers’ side.

His silence speaks volumes.

subterranean steve - March 26, 2016 Reply

Hard to believe that there are still people justifying the retention of the likes of Young and Valencia.

Manny - March 26, 2016 Reply

United can only get rid of those players who are out of contract unless those players choose to go. Anyone with 2 years or more on their contract (e.g. Young, Jones, Rojo, Fellaini and Rooney) ain’t going anywhere especially with a new manager in the offing. They’ll just string things out although Fellaini might have had enough off all the sledging from United supporters and might choose to go.

Until United have another playmaker embedded Carrick should stay and Keane’s going nowhere until he can prove his fitness

Which leaves Valencia who I fancy will see out the last year of his contract, McNair who’s a probable with Fellaini a possibility and if the club are truly nuts Carrick.

So I suspect only two of the 10 are probably on their way and in any case my favourite to go in the summer is not on the list. With Mou on his way and United having a glut of no. 10’s Mata must be favourite to leave
However trying to dump another 10 players out of the club when the squad is already under strength would be insanity. It would mean buying 10-15 players which would be impossible

Barry O - March 26, 2016 Reply

gd piece. Would love to see them have the courage to sell so many. Swap Carrick for Bastian.
Sadly EW not likely to recoup any £

r.shamallah - March 26, 2016 Reply

Hard to object. However Juan Mata MIA

dave - March 27, 2016 Reply

denton so how do the failings of his bosses make him unfit for the managers post?

subterranean steve - March 27, 2016 Reply

Good question.

As much, if not more, can be learned from observing a man’s failures, as can be learned from observing his successes.

Denton Davey - March 27, 2016 Reply

He has shown himself to be “spineless” in that he has gone along with both Moyes/LvG and has said nothing to distance himself from their failings. Of course, one could argue that Scholes’ bitter attacks on both Moyes/LvG are actually fuelled by inside-information provided by Giggs – but, I think, that’s a stretch, for which no supporting evidence has ever been brought to my attention. One could also argue, with perhaps more credibility, that SilentRyan is SAF’s “stalking horse” and there is lots of suggestions that Fergy believes he can exercise hegemonic control over SilentRyan because he has done so in the past.

But, whatever the likelihood of such possibilities, I think that it is damning that SilentRyan has kept his own counsel – to the detriment of UTD: first, because he’s gone along with stabbing so many of his old team-mates in the back when LvG has ushered them out the door, which Moyes had opened for him; and, second, because he seems to be OK with the “philosophy” and its dire on-field performances – to believe otherwise is a giant leap-of-faith.

Finally, apart from seeming to have a belief in “the UTD way” (whatever that is in actual fact – as opposed to misty-eyed nostalgia), equating SilentRyan with Pep seems a huge reach because Pep was always a team-leader/captain during his playing days and was a very, very successful manager of Barcelona’s B-team. SilentRyan has no such credentials – he was only rarely the captain because other men (Keane-o, Vidic, and even Rio) were more forceful leaders and while Giggs might have been “respected” that is no substitute for real leadership.

Jon - March 27, 2016 Reply

Agreed with most but to shift all those players on!! Means signing about 15 players! Plus is Lvg getting the most out of these players??

Denton Davey - March 27, 2016 Reply


Is this the proverbial “shot-across-the-bow” from SilentRyan ?

Seaniem - March 28, 2016 Reply

Very hard to gauge what players are worthwhile under this current regime. All very restricted in what they are allowed to do with a pedestrian possession based style. Bringing in 5/6 players is not the answer maybe 2/3 and see what the new manager can do. Will be season after next before United have a view of the player requirements.

Rich - March 28, 2016 Reply

Exactly what I was thinking. With the exception of players retiring, any of those on Ed’s list could conceivably go and play for a different manager in a different set up and do very well. Yes… Even Fellaini! It’s conceivable he would be a useful man on the bench for a champions league contending Juventus.

roger kelly - April 1, 2016 Reply

Basically agree with your analysis. However, after watching my fellow Northern Irish man Paddy McNair playing for N.Ireland recently as a holding mid-fielder he looked a good player. He was particularly good against Wales was calm in defence and read the game well. I think he should be give a chance in this position as he is a young player, appears to have a good attitude to learn the game and might have the potential in the long run.

very Good And Fine Bt except Wayne Rooney - May 5, 2016 Reply

Exclude W,rooney

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