There’s much celebration and lot of internal fist pumping at the sight of Jose Mourinho walking past the Trafford Training Center. This time, he walks past these grounds not as a visiting opponent but as one of Manchester United’s own. The Special One has now become, the Chosen One.
Chosen to lead Manchester United back into the glory days of their overwhelming domination of English Football, Jose Mourinho isn’t so much as an astute appointment, as he is an Obvious One. There’s nothing ‘Normal’ about him, and that is exactly what the club needs – someone extraordinary to take things forward.
Jose Mourinho is a serial winner. He has left behind him a trail of trophies a lot more far reaching than the debatable trail of destruction, which so many claim is to his discredit. A man who is no stranger to firm decisions, difficult and yet effective, you can expect Jose Mourinho to make a few calls at Manchester United, which would be seen as difficult but ultimately imperative for progress.
Here we look at five players Jose Mourinho could bin in his first year at the club. Five players who are set to fall as victims to the Jose Mourinho revolution with the Red Devils:
1. Juan Mata
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Jose Mourinho is known to have no time for Juan Mata. A player he very openly made out to be a luxury during their time at Chelsea, he was more than willing to push Juan Mata out when at the London Club. All fingers seem to point at the same possibility at the Manchester Club as well.
Like at Chelsea, Mata has a strong following at Manchester United. He is a flair player and scores or assists important goals. He tends to be prolific on occasion and can be a very vital cog in an attacking machine. However, defensively, as Jose Mourinho pointed out Juan Mata lacks the grit and grind to his Spanish Ole. On the back foot, he isn’t the perfect option for a hardworking team.
There’s no love lost between Jose and Juan. It may be that more than Jose wielding the axe, Juan Mata and Jose Mourinho may find it beneficial to not see each other’s faces for the season. Mata has already been linked to a number of clubs already, and before long, one may see him move back to his resident Spain where his former club, Valencia, may want to underline their ambition with his signing.
However, Juan Mata’s release will truly depend on who Manchester United gets in to replace him. It isn’t like Manchester United are flush with Jose Mourinho’s favorite type of players in that position, and even at Chelsea, Mata’s departure was down to the availability of Oscar, who at least back then was a good player. Yet, replacement or not, do not expect Juan Mata to stay at United for long or even start as much for Jose’s Reds.
2. Daley Blind
This might come as a shock to many Manchester United fans, seeing his name on this list. In fact, most would have a darn right chuckle at the thought of him being a victim to the Mourinho axe. Daley Blind has been, of course, for the longest time a fan favorite at Old Trafford. After all, the Dutchman has done well in any role handed to him since his £14 million move from Ajax.
While this form of logic may seem strained, the issue here is more along the lines of the closeness to Van Gaal and that Van Gaal was sacked rather brusquely, but also that the argument that Jose’s and Mendes’ camp acted rather disrespectfully in the whole scene. Jose likes control. He doesn’t like people standing up to him, and he will be more than wary about such situations considering how his time at Chelsea came to a halt.
Blind was perhaps a little wrong to go to the Netherlands’ training camp in Portugal to talk about how he felt Louis Van Gaal was mistreated during his final six months. He has remained cryptic as to who he was accusing but if this is supposed to be picked up as an inkling of what is to come, there may be some strain between Jose and Blind.
But sweep aside all this riff-raff about ego issues. Daley Blind has been deployed at left back, center back and defensive midfield. At the back, Jose prefers very athletic players with great speed. Blind would have to be a massive exception to fit in at the back. The physical attributes, by admission, have been Jose’s strongest criterion for most of his recruitment, and Blind seems to be a little back on that front. He may find himself repositioned to defensive midfield unless Jose has other plans, but there’s a sharp chance that he may be dropped altogether and become a utility man rather than a sure starter.
This is one name which should not surprise anyone. Marouane Fellaini has been in this position before. He makes it a personal point to return from these grave situations by establishing himself even more strongly in the first team, but that was under David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal. Jose Mourinho is a different animal.
The point here is Marouane Fellaini offers a lot to Manchester United, but the position he occupies in the starting eleven is one where Jose expects more and a different strain of ability. The one name that keeps cropping up which could mean the end of Fellaini is that of Radja Nainggolan. He is, in fact, the exact archetype of a player Jose would look at in his team’s midfield.
Should Nainggolan or ‘a Nainggolan’ arrive in the window, that’s curtains for Fellaini’s first team opportunities right there. Should he wish to stay back as a member of the squad however, Jose might love to have him on board. He is a useful option to have off your bench or for crucial games that need a different brand of aggression which Fellaini offers.
Jose loves players like Marouane but will definitely not allow him to be a mainstay of a team which is already under great pressure as to produce a more entertaining brand of football than they have played of late.
This one should break a few hearts. Let’s face it. The Bastian experiment has not worked out. Injuries and often a very visible sense of fading out in games has not really done Schweinsteiger any favours. There was much fervor and celebration attributed to his arrival from Bayern Munich. He was expected to form a solid midfield with Frenchman Morgan Schneiderlin who was signed from Southampton in the same window.
But, ‘Schmidfield’ has never really taken off, and the duo have not seemed to be the best pairing in the world when put in together. Many could argue that something like that has been down to a lack of cohesiveness in the team itself owing to a tactic issue from the coaching. However, Bastian truly is no longer the player who was considered one of the best in the world. Evidently, his physical wane is down to age, and it isn’t the best idea to try and adapt to one of the most physical leagues in the world after arriving at age 31.
With Schneiderlin and Herrera already in the books for Manchester United and Jose looking to get another one in at Old Trafford, this could be the end of Bastian’s starting hopes. It also does not help that he is another Van Gaal favorite.
5. Marcos Rojo
He seems to be a rather obvious casualty to this revolution. Mourinho isn’t one to take a lack of professionalism and attitude issues for long. He comes down with a heavy hand and scythes out elements that could portray themselves as contagiously negative. He certainly won’t stand for mediocrity. Marcos Rojo has had good games this season, but you could count them on one hand. He seems very evidently out of shape. Of course, he was out with a dislocated shoulder for around three months, but that does not excuse the time he has required to get back into shape from an injury that doesn’t affect his legs or knees. He was out of shape before the injury as the season began as well, which delayed his selection to a place on the squad for the longest time. Rojo is also United’s weakest link in games where teams deploy good wingers against the Red Devils.
Rojo is also rash when it comes to his style of play as he keeps picking up bookings that don’t really add any value to the game. He gets booked for the silliest reasons and that shows either a lack of application or desire to apply oneself. Both are attitudes, Mourinho is known to dislike, and that could spell the end for Marcos Rojo, who was brought in with high hopes after a solid World Cup campaign.
Alas! It wasn’t meant to be and so it seems this could be the end of the road for Rojo.