Manchester United: Mourinho second season magic at risk

CARSON, CA - JULY 15: Head Coach Jose Mourinho on the sidelines before the match against the Los Angeles Galaxy at StubHub Center on July 15, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - JULY 15: Head Coach Jose Mourinho on the sidelines before the match against the Los Angeles Galaxy at StubHub Center on July 15, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has never failed to win the title in his second season in charge. While this has excited Red Devil fans, preseason has shown it’s at serious risk.

The Portuguese boss has made two signings so far this season and although the additions are welcomed, other key areas are yet to be addressed at Manchester United. Mourinho has claimed that he’d be happy with one more signing even though he hopes for two.

He’s also confirmed the signings he’s looking out for are a midfielder and a winger. What the ‘Special One’ hasn’t confirmed is which one he’d be happy to settle with as the one signing the club makes. The truth is that the Red Devils need both signings. There’s a serious lack of depth out wide, especially with out and out wingers.

However, a defensive midfielder is definitely what Manchester United need more urgently. The game against Barcelona proved so. Other than Carrick, who just turned 36 years old, there’s no real player capable of playing that role well enough. Let’s not even talk about how players ran circles around Carrick during that match.

Mourinho will be aware of a need of a defensive midfielder in order to release his abundance of creative players. It’s why the tactician has pinpointed these areas as areas that need to be improved.

Last season Manchester United had Schweinsteiger, Carrick, Pogba, Herrera, Schneiderlin and Fellaini in midfield. Now that, admittedly, isn’t the most attractive midfield in the world but at least the numbers were there to make up for depth incase there was any serious injuries to anyone in the squad.

Two of those players are currently at different clubs and arguably Fellaini should be too. There’s also a debate about whether Carrick deserved an extension to his contract given how he’s past his peak and how he hasn’t featured in as many games as he has in previous seasons.

manchester united manager jose mourinho
HOUSTON, TX – JULY 20 (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

While Andreas Pereira is an exciting prospect and Mourinho admires him, it’s still his breakthrough season. There’s also the issue of where his best position is which is yet to be seen in a Mourinho side. The former Chelsea boss himself has played him in defensive midfield, central midfield and attacking midfield in an effort to see where he can fit in most.

However, at least Pereira adds one more body in that Manchester United midfield but it is very apparent that another player is needed and in particular someone who can take over the reigns from Carrick as the calm, composed defensive midfielder capable of tackling and connecting defence with midfield all in one.

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During the club’s worst game in pre-season against Real Madrid, there was a clear gaping hole in that position which all of Pogba, Herrera and McTominay tried to, temporarily, fill that position in to no good effect. It’s simple really, none of them are naturally defensive midfielders and as such Mourinho’s men will continue to suffer until someone like Carrick is brought in.

A winger is definitely needed too considering the lack of numbers there as well as the type of wide-man Jose is looking for. Mkhitaryan, Martial, Rashford, Mata, Lingard, Pereira and Young are all capable of playing there but how many of them are truly able to play the way the manager wants them too?

All of them have a tendency to float around or cut inside with the ball when Mourinho is begging them to instead take the ball to the byline and look to beat their man or cross it into the box. None of them are out and out wingers and arguably some of them aren’t even supposed to be out wide such as Martial, Rashford or Mata.

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It would be great if both areas are addressed but if only one can be fulfilled this transfer window then it has to be the defensive midfielder; not only to make up the numbers but to also bring out the best out of everyone that’s around him. Surely Mourinho will be thinking the same with apparently efforts being ramped up for any of Matic or Fabinho.