banner68
banner58

Manchester United have solutions for their transfer dilemmas

Man Utd pre-season begins today and Jose Mourinho is lacking options for the first Premier League fixture unless their transfer window takes off.

banner57

Manchester United have solutions for their transfer dilemmas

Man Utd pre-season begins today and Jose Mourinho is lacking options for the first Premier League fixture unless their transfer window takes off.

11 July 2018 Wednesday 10:31
Manchester United have solutions for their transfer dilemmas

Chris Smalling must have envisaged a summer devoid of hipster shopping before Gareth Southgate jettisoned him from the England squad in November, and rather than prepare for a World Cup semi-final he will check into Manchester United's Carrington training complex on Wednesday morning.

Smalling is in good company. Thanks to an auxiliary option 10 years his senior, Luke Shaw is in Manchester rather than Moscow, although the left-back wished Ashley Young a happy birthday on Monday and attended a private screening of England's quarter-final win over Sweden in Manchester.

Shaw and Smalling are the only capped England players expected to be included in United's pre-season tour squad and the longer England have stayed in Russia the likelier the pair will start the season for their club.

England are guaranteed to play two more matches, with the losing semi-finalists obliged to play in a third and fourth place play-off, meaning United's Lions will be holidaying into August.

Young, Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford will earn a minimum three-week breather following England's exploits, depriving Jose Mourinho of their services for the entire pre-season.

United face Bayern Munich on August 5, three weeks after the World Cup final, and it is doubtful the quartet - or Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini - will be in the desired condition for the season opener against Leicester.

United commence the Premier League season at the earliest possible date with a Friday night fixture. The upside is there is a nine-day gap between that curtain-raiser and the flight to Brighton, when their most successful World Cup participants should be match-ready.

Mourinho encountered a similar issue with Andre Schurrle four years ago. The Germany winger played the majority of the World Cup final against Argentina on July 13 but was back at Chelsea's Cobham training base, gold medal in hand, on August 5 and managed an appearance in their final friendly at Ferencvaros in Hungary.

Schurrle actually started ahead of Willian in Chelsea's first Premier League game at Burnley but the advantage Mourinho had was the season started later in 2014 and Chelsea's trip to Turf Moor was chosen for the Monday night slot. Rather than begin a domestic campaign on August 18 it is August 10 for United.

Pogba had a 30-day period of rest between the Euro 2016 final and his full debut against Southampton, via an exhausting transfer saga played out on Instagram which resulted in him becoming the world's most expensive footballer.

Pogba veered from coast to coast, spending time in Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas and New York, yet Mourinho was confident of his fitness.

"I saw him Instagramming," Mourinho laughed after the Community Shield.

"Swimming, karate, running, basketball, football, he does everything, so he must be fit."

Pogba would have played at Bournemouth in the opening weekend but for a suspension carried over from his Juventus days.

Jones and Victor Lindelof's probable absences for Leicester are offset by the availability of Smalling, Eric Bailly, Axel Tuanzebe and possibly Marcos Rojo, whose World Cup ended on June 30.

Shaw is the specialist left-back from the existing squad and wantaways Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian are possible fillers while Young recharges.

England and Belgium's progress poses a particular problem for Mourinho in attack, though.

United's main strikers are in Russia until this weekend and it is such an acute issue Mouirnho is expected to name 16-year-old Mason Greenwood in his tour squad.

Lingard has achieved enough in the last eight months to have attained first-team status at United and often masks the team's problem position.

While Willian and Gareth Bale remain attached to their clubs, the right wing choices at United remain underwhelming.

Juan Mata, seemingly a stop-gap option when Louis van Gaal trialled him there in 2015, is still the most effective option on the right in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The irony is the right-footed candidates - Alexis Sanchez and Anthony Martial - are ineffectual there and, in fairness, needed elsewhere.

It is hasty to assume Tahith Chong, also slated to go on the pre-season tour, could perform at a level in exhibition matches that convinces Mourinho he is ready for senior football.

Chong was not even considered for Michael Carrick's second testimonial back in May against Watford but it is still quite the gauntlet to lay down; prove yourself on tour and you might start the season.

Martial showed little stomach for the fight after Sanchez arrived but it is feasible the pair could play in the same attack.

Martial cherished the centre forward's number at United and could occupy it in Lukaku's absence, unless he is as resigned about his role as Boris Johnson was.

"For many months you are always asking me why this player doesn't play, why that player doesn't play, why this player is on the bench, why always Lukaku, why always this guy?" Mourinho bragged after Martial and Rashford flunked at Brighton in May. Martial has a point to prove.

As do Smalling and Shaw.

Comments
Avatar
Your Name
Post a Comment
Characters Left:
Your comment has been forwarded to the administrator for approval.×
<strong>Warning!</strong> Will constitute a criminal offense, illegal, threatening, offensive, insulting and swearing, derogatory, defamatory, vulgar, pornographic, indecent, personality rights, damaging or similar nature in the nature of all kinds of financial content, legal, criminal and administrative responsibility for the content of the sender member / members are belong.