De Futebol

Man U is off to a good start in the summer signings according to the Daily Mail. “Jose Mourinho has completed his first transfer of his second summer at Old Trafford and if precedent is anything to go by Victor Lindelof will play a major role next season.

All four of Mourinho’s signings 12 months ago went on to contribute significantly to a campaign that ended with two pieces of silverware but the Swedish defender is only the initial move in the Manchester United manager’s plans for a genuine title challenge.

Winning the Europa League and League Cup transformed an underwhelming domestic season into something positive yet Mourinho knows his team must now vie to become Premier League champions and progress well in the Champions League. Here are seven steps to take.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury heightened the importance of securing a new No 9 and Alvaro Morata has been identified as that man. His arrival for £60million appears imminent and though Real Madrid could not find a regular starting place for him he will sharpen United’s attacking edge.

The 24-year-old scored 15 La Liga goals in 27 games, where 12 were made off the bench, and also struck three times in the Champions League. While the flirtations with Antoine Griezmann ended in a slightly disingenuous ‘it’s-not-you-it’s-us’ parting Mourinho clearly wants a strong focal point to make up for 28 goals going out of the side and Morata provides that.

Finding how best Marcus Rashford works amid all this is also paramount.

Lindelof’s arrival gives Mourinho a surplus of central defenders and raises the prospect that Chris Smalling or Phil Jones will be sold.

The Portuguese may have been speaking in jest when revealing his plans for the Europa League final against Ajax but publicly criticising Smalling’s ability to play from the back does not bode well.

There would be a number of Premier League takers for the 27-year-old, who also bore Mourinho’s sharp tongue over fitness. Luke Shaw’s future also looks uncertain.

In that interview with Tribuna Expresso Mourinho made clear just how much attention he pays to the opposition, even a side United are expected to beat without much fuss.

That was the case last season, but the tailored approach only truly worked in the home victory over Chelsea, with costly draws against Hull, West Ham, Burnley, Stoke, West Brom and Swansea symptomatic of a side with the handbrake on.

Mourinho’s pragmatism will never allow his players unfettered freedom but infusing more attacking verve is essential, especially at Old Trafford.

There seems little danger of United arriving for the first match of the Premier League season undercooked. Protecting from burnout and jet-lag is Mourinho’s dilemma.

United will have played eight pre-season games before facing West Ham at Old Trafford on what is scheduled to be August 12, just four days after facing Real Madrid in the Super Cup in Skopje, Macedonia.

United get back to action a month earlier on July 15 in a contest against LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center, then comes Real Salt Lake in Utah on July 17, Manchester City in Texas on July 20, Real for the first time back in California on July 23, Barcelona in Maryland on July 26, Valerenga in Oslo on July 30, then Sampdoria in Dublin on August 2.

That is some frequency of football and flying and not the ideal preparation for a demanding campaign.

Paul Pogba was a lightning rod for much criticism last season, understandably so given he arrived for a world-record fee and infrequently played to a standard to justify it. But the 24-year-old’s performance in dominating England in Paris illustrated just what he can do when given the ball in a system that suits.

For United, as Mourinho is not shy to admit, midfield can be bypassed if circumstances dictate, thus depriving Pogba the direct skill-strength combat with others that makes him shine. Ryan Giggs feels Pogba is ready to upgrade displays after a full season back in England and that predication is sure to be echoed by Mourinho.

It does appear Real have backed away from the expected bid for David de Gea, but given the years of strong and persistent speculation United would do well to ensure that transpires to be the case.

The Spanish goalkeeper has been the club’s best player of the last five years and for all that Sergio Romero performed well in the Europa League, United would be weaker without De Gea. His departing seemed inevitable towards the end of last season but Keylor Navas’s contributions to Real’s success has lessened demand. Mourinho should hope it stays that way.

It does appear Real have backed away from the expected bid for David de Gea, but given the years of strong and persistent speculation United would do well to ensure that transpires to be the case.

The Spanish goalkeeper has been the club’s best player of the last five years and for all that Sergio Romero performed well in the Europa League, United would be weaker without De Gea. His departing seemed inevitable towards the end of last season but Keylor Navas’s contributions to Real’s success has lessened demand. Mourinho should hope it stays that way.

Wayne Rooney’s anticipated parting is no longer certain but Mourinho will still find use for his captain at certain moments. Even if he stays, Mourinho might wish to address who wears the armband regularly. Rooney will not start and vice-captain Michael Carrick will play sparingly.

Technically Smalling is third in line but Antonio Valencia was skipper for the Europa League final and it may be time to give responsibility to someone who would be an automatic in the first XI.

Step forward Ander Herrera, the fans’ player of the year after a season that made him a firm favourite at Old Trafford. Herrera has the quality but also the belligerence to be a leader and, at 27, has years ahead of him to cement that status.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4607184/Manchester-United-manager-Jose-Mourinho-s-list.html#ixzz4kAAtWPvw