Keep or Sell: What changes need to take place at Manchester United this summer?
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on July 25, 2016
The 16/17 season is fast approaching and Jose Mourinho has had a very busy first summer as Manchester United boss already after capturing promising centre-back Eric Bailly, highly-rated right-winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan and also reuniting himself with veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the window with a couple of new faces still expected to join the rebuilding project at Old Trafford. However, despite all of the exciting players joining The Red Devils there will definitely be changes in the current squad, mainly due to the fact that Jose Mourinho is known to have a different taste in players than his predecessor at the helm Louis van Gaal. But I’m not here to talk about what I THINK is going to happen to this somewhat vulnerable squad in the last month or so of the transfer window, I want to put my opinion on the table and explain who I think deserves a seat on the rollercoaster journey that is ‘the Mourinho Era’.
The 31-Man Squad
So first we obviously need to agree on the current squad that Louis van Gaal left for Jose Mourinho, including returning loanees and those players who are widely expected to leave while excluding the summer signings made already it looks like this:
De Gea, Romero, Johnstone///Darmian, Valencia, Varela///Smalling,Blind, Jones, Rojo, McNair, Blackett///Shaw, Borthwick-Jackson///Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Herrera, Fellaini, Fosu-Mensah///Mata, Lingard///Rooney, Pereira///Martial, Memphis, Young, Januzaj///Rashford, Keane, Wilson
I’ve missed out players such as Joe Riley, Axel Tuanzebe, Donald Love, Sean Goss, Regan Poole and Ro-Shaun Williams because even though they did make a few cameo appearances last season due to injuries, I don’t feel like they have cemented a place in the first team YET.
Who Should Manchester United Keep?
Lets start with the players at Mourinho’s disposal who certainly deserve a place in this season’s Manchester United squad. For me the number of these players is limited seen as though there were only a few who stood out in what was overall a hugely disappointing season last time around.
David de Gea: Honestly, what is there to say on this guy? It should be classed as a crime to even question the Spaniard’s place in the first team never mind the squad after winning the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award for the past three seasons as well as every single Premier League Save of the Season since the award began. David de Gea is without a doubt the most talented goalkeeper in the Premier League and has truly cemented is his place as one of the best goalkeepers in the world and despite claims that he wanted out of the club if Louis van Gaal stayed in charge, the arrival of The Special One seems to have resulted in a change of mind. If anyone is more deserving of being the first name of Jose’s team sheet it’s this man.
Chris Smalling: Throughout the build-up to the new season fans have obviously been planning out who they would have in the Manchester United 16/17 XI, me included, and nearly everyone is deciding who to partner Chris Smalling with at centre-half, never deciding whether Smalling deserves his place. The 26 year-old Englishman was one of the key factors in a Premier League season where United conceded the joint least goals (35) and enjoyed without a doubt his best in the famous red shirt so far. He’s at the stage of his career now where he will be hitting his prime form and has the potential to be one of the world’s best defenders if he continues to improve under Jose Mourinho. One thing is for sure, if he has as good of a season as he did last year Manchester United will once again enjoy a fantastic defensive record through the upcoming campaign.
Luke Shaw: Luke Shaw obviously didn’t play a part in most of Manchester United’s latest season after suffering that horrific leg break in Eindhoven during a Champions League match against PSV however in the few games that he did play before that tragedy he looked absolutely incredible. Watching Luke Shaw in a United shirt this season will be just like watching a new signing for many fans this season and some could argue that he hasn’t actually had a fair chance yet after his first season was overshadowed with a number of minor injuries. I’m sure Jose Mourinho will be wanting a set back four and despite only being 21 his position should be almost certain with not much competition there anyway, Mourinho’s interest in him before he chose United over Chelsea almost guarantees his starting place at left back.
Anthony Martial: When Louis van Gaal signed Martial from Monaco in the latter stages of the 15/16 summer transfer window no one knew who he was however in the space of a year he has turned into a Manchester United hero. The 20 year-old forward scored some of the most memorable goals for The Reds last season from his incredible solo debut goal against Liverpool to that last gasp Wembley winner against Everton. Despite competing against Memphis, who is hoping to prove himself to Mourinho after a poor debut season, it looks confirmed that the Frenchman will play on the left side of United’s exciting attack next season and it would be stupid to let him go. I want him to stay, every other United fan wants him to stay, and after pushing PSG interest to one side in the early stages of the current transfer window it looks like he wants to stay at Old Trafford as well.
Marcus Rashford: It was never even up for questioning if this player would leave United this summer, being a Manchester-born lad starting for his childhood club week in week out, Marcus Rashford is living the dream at the moment. An Anthony Martial injury in the warm up for a game against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League meant that 18-year old Rashford started his first game for the Reds after playing in the reserves the whole season, scoring twice on his debut and then twice again on his Premier League debut against Arsenal kick-started Rashford’s professional career and he hasn’t looked back since. After signing a new bumper deal with United this summer it is clear that he’s in Jose’s upcoming plans however a starting place might not be assured after the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, not exactly a bad player to have as an impact substitute though is it?!
So now that I’ve explained my picks for certain squad members next season whos places are all but confirmed, I think we should go through who I think deserves to stay put out of all of the players linked with moves away from United this summer.
Guillermo Varela: Varela was Manchester United’s first signing after Sir Alex Ferguson and he didn’t really have much of a chance to shine before last season, however, after both Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia were sidelined with injuries in the the second half of the 15/16 season Louis van Gaal called upon the young Uruguayan on several occasions. It felt like watching a new signing last season at right-back and Varela himself looked so comfortable for a player his age coming into the first team of Manchester United in such rushed fashion. Reports are heavily suggesting that Guillermo is not in Jose Mourinho’s plans and is most likely to be sold this summer. I personally don’t think that he deserves to be sold after such a promising breakthrough season in the first team but his place was always going to be at risk with a new manager coming into the club, possibly a loan move would be best for Varela to prove his worth to Mourinho while the manager works with players he wants to work with.
Daley Blind: Just like Varela, Daley Blind has also been heavily linked to be a part of the expected summer exodus under Jose Mourinho despite playing the most minutes for The Reds last season while being a top contender for the Player of the Year award. For me it’d be extremely questionable to let a player of Daley’s versatility and talent leave the club because even though he isn’t built like your usual centre-back his cleverness to read the ball is just as vital as pace and strength, he proved that last season while being part of the leagues best defence. Even if Mourinho has other ideas for his defenders, Blind still definitely has a part to play in the defensive two in what is likely to be a 4-2-3-1 formation. He might not be first choice but he’s definitely a very useful player to have on the bench seen as those he can play in a number of positions and he defensive style will be crucial when United are holding onto a lead when the season starts.
Andreas Pereira: To be honest, I wouldn’t be suprised if Pereira is in Jose Mourinho’s plans to be a backup for Wayne Rooney in that central attacking-midfield position especially after that cracking strike against Wigan on Saturday. It’s known that Pereira rejected a contract last summer because he was unhappy with Louis van Gaals’ man management after being demoted to the reserves despite asking to go on loan. The key reason why I’m saying that we need to make sure we keep Pereira is simply because I still have the whole Paul Pogba situation at the back of my mind, he certainly has the potential like Pogba did and if we were to let him go, you never know, we might have to buy him back for a world-record fee a few years later…
Juan Mata: Quite possibly the player who was most expected to part ways with the club after Mourinho’s appointment is Juan Mata. You can understand why a number of question marks surrounded his future after telling Mourinho to sell him to United from Chelsea in January 2014. However, Mourinho has since quashed rumours that he wants Mata out and has said that there is space in the squad for him even if it isn’t in the starting XI. I don’t think that it’s much secret that Juan is very happy at Old Trafford and would love to stay at the club but with Everton one of the clubs interested in his services possibly a large fee could tempt Jose to let him go once again, lets hope for the best though as he still has a huge role to play in my eyes.
Memphis Depay: There was an incredible amount of hype surrounding the 22 year-old forward when he became Louis van Gaal’s first signing of the 15/16 summer transfer window however he has miserably failed to live up to that hype in his first season scoring just 7 goals in the 45 games he appeared in. Despite his unconvincing first season at Manchester United I strongly believe that he needs a lot more time to get use to the English game and once he fits in I’m sure he will make the former #7 shirt wearers proud, you’ve got to remember that Ronaldo only scored 6 goals in 40 games during his first spell at the club. It’s very likely that Memphis will be a rotation player during the 16/17 season due to Martial taking up the left-wing position however I’m sure with the Europa League to think about as well everyone will get good game time.
Who needs to go?
Lets face it, the majority of the Manchester United squad were pretty underwhelming last term and there are a selected few that have really overstayed their welcome at the biggest club in the world. Alright fine some might not of had much of a chance yet but with the ever-growing youth set-up in United’s ranks, the players aged 21-23 seem to have been surpassed talent-wise by the 17-20 year-olds.
Sergio Romero: Don’t get me wrong, Romero has served his clubs and country fantastically over his career however it just hasn’t worked out for him at Manchester United. Competing against arguably the best goalkeeper in the world is hard enough, but the games where Romero has played it’s unfortunately been mistake after mistake after mistake and with Sam Johnstone now at the age where he’ll be wanting to get in the sqaud and not go out on loan I think it would be best if the Argentinian moved on. I shouldn’t feel more comfortable when a 23 year-old is in goal over a 29 year-old but the truth is I do and that is a huge problem for me, so in my eyes Romero has to RomerGO!
Phil Jones: Phil Jones was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson from Blackburn in 2011 and the Scottish legend was quick to label Jones as a future United great. It hasn’t really worked out, however, with injuries given him a poor consistency of games has led to him now being surpassed by the likes of Fosu-Mensah and Tuanzebe in terms of fan popularity while being 24, an age where you should be close to hitting your prime. Seen as though the Preston-born defender is still only 24 there is definitely still time to prove himself to myself and fans alike and with reports that Jose Mourinho is set to make him first choice alongside Smalling, fans might need to learn to like him whether they agree with the decision or not. For me however, after the capture of Eric Bailly, I’d sell Jones on and get £10m-£20m for him and then purchase a top quality defender in his prime to play alongside Chris Smalling at the back.
Marcos Rojo: Marcos Rojo was an instant fan favourite after he forced a move away from Sporting Lisbon in desperation to play for Manchester United in the 14/15 summer transfer window. The 26 year-old started his United career very brightly playing in centre back with Chris Smalling however has failed to perform well at a consistent basis and is now down the pecking order behind Luke Shaw at left back and Smalling, Jones and Blind at centre back. It is known that Jose Mourinho likes his big central defenders so he might possibly keep Rojo and try to get the best out of him but if I was in the gaffers position I would move him on.
Tyler Blackett: We haven’t seen much of Tyler Blackett in recent times to be honest and speculation over his future is well and truly hotting up after a number of news sources have confirmed that Mourinho is looking to get him out of the club. After breaking into the first team at the age of 19 in van Gaal’s first season in charge he played several games to cover for the injured Luke Shaw however after losing his form spent the whole of the 15/16 season being a fringe player in Celtic’s ranks. Now that he is 21 years old and younger defenders such as Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Ro-Shaun Williams and Poole are looking a lot more convincing than himself it seems pretty certain that he won’t be at the club on September 1st and I personally wouldn’t miss him.
Marouane Fellaini: Marouane Fellaini is suprisingly a really tough one to call for me because he clearly isn’t Manchester United standard however he can be a perfect when you need him. If you desperately need a goal in the late stages in a game and you need to put as many balls into the box this is your man to get on the end of them, at least 75% of his goals for The Reds have been with his head due to his height and strength. Fellaini fitted Louis van Gaal’s questionable philosophy and was a regular starter in midfielder however expect that to be a completely different story under Mourinho. The Portugese manager has previously stated his admiration for the big Belgian so he could possibly play the part of an impact substitute however I think it’d be better if we sold him, especially if the vastly expected does happen and Paul Pogba returns to the red side of Manchester.
Will Keane: Will Keane has potential,don’t get me wrong, however with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and possibly even James Wilson ahead of the 23 year-old in the Manchester United strikers pecking order it would be the best for his career to move to another club where he’ll get games. Loaning him out is obviously an option if he is happy to do so however since being promoted to the United first team in 2011 he’s only made 2 appearances, that is TWO appearances in FIVE years. During the five years he’s been on loan to four different clubs so it would be understandable if he felt like he wanted to settle at a single club even if it meant leaving his beloved boyhood club just like his brother Michael Keane did last year.
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