A month after being announced as the new Manchester United manager, Portuguese Jose Mourinho started his work at Old Trafford a few days back.
The former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager has replaced experienced Dutchman Louis Van Gaal after the latter’s dismal two seasons with the English giants.
Known as a tactical mastermind and a shrewd spender, Jose Mourinho has bought some stellar players into the clubs he has managed. Mesut Ozil to Real Madrid, Samuel Eto’o to Inter Milan and Didier Drogba to Chelsea are his best examples.
However, the 53-year-old has stepped up to the plated at Old-Trafford and has made a couple of key signings. The transfers of PSG forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Borussia Dortmund winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan have boosted the fan’s morale after a disappointing 36 months.
With the likes of Blaise Matuidi and Hirving Lozano inching closer towards a move to Old Trafford, The Red Devils will be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming English Premier League season. With a pretty large pool of football talent to choose from, let us take a look at how Manchester United could line-up under Jose Mourinho:
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
With the big Spaniard guarding the goal, you don’t find it necessary to invest in another keeper. Having kept 15 clean sheets in the Premier League last season, big Dave was Manchester United’s biggest plus point in a dismal campaign.
De Gea is armed with spectacular reflexes, positioning, and shot-stopping abilities. He is a definite starter under Jose Mourinho.
Darmian has established himself as the number one choice for the right-back role after a slew of decent performances. He was named ‘Man of the Match’ on his debut and has carried on his good form ever since.
Along with good defensive skills, the Italian moves forward very well and is extremely dangerous with his crosses and key passes. An all rounder like him will definitely suit Mourinho’s style of play. Smalling is currently England’s best center back.
The former Fulham lad has come a long way since his dismal debut season a couple of years ago. He is a monster in the air and can head the ball well. His best attribute is his tackling ability. Smalling averaged 2.8 successful tackles per game last season, which was one of the best in Europe. A shrewd and ‘no nonsense’ player like Smalling is exactly what Jose needs. Bailly is a young defender, but he is very good on the ball.
He is physical, strong and quick. He even moves forward from time to time, scoring a few goals here and there. He is the raw talent that Mourinho could mold into a truly great defender.
Luke Shaw will return after missing most of the 2015-16 season through injury. A double leg break in a Champions League game almost ended his career, but, the young Englishman has made a fast recovery and will be the favorite to start at left back. Blessed with blistering pace and good dribbling skills, Shaw runs past his opponents with ease and becomes a serious threat in the opponent’s box. Shaw will be Mourinho’s trump card this season.
Midfielders: Ander Herrera (CM), Wayne Rooney (CM), Blaise Matuidi (CDM)
The Spaniard, Herrera, is most likely to start ahead of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Micheal Carrick at midfield. Possessing a tremendous work rate, Herrera is excellent in going forward and creates plenty of chances for his team-mates. He can defend from time to time.
A utility midfielder like Herrera is exactly what Mourinho needs.Wayne Rooney has been Manchester United’s best player since the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo. Be it scoring goals, assisting his fellow team-mates or tracking back and doing the dirty work, the England skipper has excelled in all departments. He was converted to a central midfielder after the emergence of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford last season.
He adapted brilliantly and formed a cohesive unit along with Micheal Carrick and Juan Mata. There have been rumors that Mourinho may play him as a striker. Wherever he plays, Rooney will be an asset for the team.The 29-year old PSG midfielder, Matuidi, has been a crucial member of the team which won four consecutive league titles.
Forming a steady partnership with Marco Veratti and Thiago Motta in midfield, Matuidi controlled proceedings and made his opponents toil around tirelessly. He is lethal in front of goal and is also a stubborn defender. With Paul Pogba unlikely to return to Manchester United, Matuidi will be Mourinho’s most wanted midfielder this season.
Forwards: Anthony Martial (LW), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (ST), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (RW)
After an expensive move to Old Trafford last season, Martial surprised everyone with his heroics in his debut game against Liverpool. He followed it up with a brace against Southampton. His best contribution in United colors came against Everton in the FA Cup semi-finals, where he scored the winning goal which sent The Red Devils into the finals. He was United’s best outfield player last season.
A winger blessed with exceptional pace and dribbling skills, Martial foxes the defenders with his wily tricks and skills. His shooting skills are impeccable and won the ‘Goal of the Season’ award for his expert finish against Stoke City. Still only 20 years old, Martial has a bright future and will be the ideal under Jose Mourinho.Mkhitaryan had a fantastic campaign at Borussia Dortmund last season.
He was voted as the ‘Player’s Player of the Season’. He topped the assister’s chart with 15 assists under his name and also scored 11 goals. He lit up the Bundesliga with his blazing runs into the box, key passes to strikers and was part of a lethal trio which ruled the German League for two years (along with Aubameyang and Marco Reus.) With Juan Mata on the verge of leaving the club, Mkhitaryan will hardly face any challenge for his role in the starting XI.
He will challenge the likes of Christain Eriksen, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne and Mesut Ozil for the top assister’s accolade.Last but not the least, we have the legendary Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He has won the league title 9 times in the last 10 years, making trophies his obsession. A deadly striker, Ibra has the best right foot in football. He has the ability to score from any part of the pitch.
He is a menace in the air and can head the ball with power and precision. Jose Mourinho’s best transfer till date (as he was a free transfer), Zlatan can single-handedly win games for his club as he has done it numerous times for his country. At the age of 34, Zlatan is still going strong and is the favorite to win the ‘Golden Boot’ next season.
Can United win the title?
Looking at the teams around United, I don’t see why not. Chelsea and Manchester City will be strong contenders with top class managers by their side. Tottenham and Arsenal lack the firepower required to win the Premier League. Claudio Ranieri will find it difficult to replicate his last season heroics. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are another brilliant team and will be one of the favorites to qualify for the Champions League. Having all bases covered, Manchester United start as favorites to win the league title this season.
Below is the predicted lineup in pictures: