Manchester United are making progress under new manager Mourinho even before a ball has been kicked and that should come as good news for the supporters after years of negligence and unstructured transfer activity. Like his predecessor Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho has decided to prioritise, axing players that will not feature in his plans over bringing in new recruits and while that is not a bad sign in terms of the direction the club is heading towards, it’s imperative all the right players, or in this case, the misfits, are shown the door, before lining up their replacements.
A few days ago, United announced that they had released four players (senior team and reserves) that included 22-year old Nick Powell and ex-Barcelona stopper Victor Valdes signalling their permanent end of association with the club – something that should not surprise anyone. The demise and ultimate exile of Powell from United, although might have an element of shock, who famously came on for Juan Mata in the Champions League group stage game against Wolfsburg, also scored a goal in his debut in 2012 – against Wigan Athletic prompting claims that he could emulate the great Paul Scholes, if he stayed focused like the legendary midfielder. How things can change.
Mourinho has a similar task in hand as he walks in to the changing room in the first week of July, when the preparation officially starts for the new season. He needs to get rid of some of these players mentioned below – where improvements can be definitively made in the summer by signing able replacements, to strengthen his bid to propel Manchester United to the zenith of English football again.
4. Antonio Valencia
This might be a controversial option but Antonio Valencia must be sold simply because he is not a conventional right back. And he is not a winger good enough to play week in week out in the first eleven, either. Nor does he impact the game much coming on from the bench. The Ecuador captain has been a diligent servant for the club, loved pulling the shirt on, so much so that he did not want an agent to represent him. The 30-year old has enjoyed the highs and lows in his personal career at United, and it’s time they parted ways for the good and clear the pathway to another South American Guillermo Varela, who is waiting in the wings to take over the mantle and fight for a regular spot at right back.
3. Marouane Fellaini
It’s a bit strange to say Fellaini needs to go after the important goals he’s scored under Louis van Gaal in the run in to the FA cup final when he also happened to claim the assist for the first goal – a sort of lay-off only he could do, at will. But the Belgian’s role under Mourinho is going to be largely reduced with question marks over his suitability hanging over his head and if anything, he must know that better than anyone. Would he fit in Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1 where midfielders are expected to work without the ball as much as with it? Can he be useful in a fast transition from defence to attack, the very identity of Mourinho’s previously successful teams? I highly doubt he can be.
2. Ashley Young
The archetypal utility man in the mold of John O’Shea (although not as good), Ashley Young, has played a key filler role in pretty much every outfield position on the pitch – more recently up top, much to the dismay of the supporters, shows how badly deprived the reds were of quality strikers in their ranks – understandably after offloading Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez in the same window. The 30-year old, has never really been at his best since the 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal, some could point to the injuries he’s had in his time at United hindering his development, while the majority have resigned to the supposed limited abilities of the player. It’s hard to see how he could force himself back into the new manager’s plans and it’s only best for both parties if United cashed in on the player – to bring in a younger and better replacement to bolster the side.
1. Phil Jones
It has to be him, hasn’t it? Phil Jones is a player that used to divide opinion. With an athletic build and bundles of potential that had once made Sir Alex Ferguson claim that the defender could be their “greatest player ever” – although that is typical Sir Alex over-exaggerating things to romanticize the occasion, there’s no denying that the 24-year old looked like he could play at United for years and years until the shin splints he suffered, that now looks to have seriously hampered his progress. Having failed to feature in more than 25 league games in each of his last four seasons at United since he signed for £16.5m from Blackburn, it’s difficult to see how he could break this trend and appear on a more regular basis. His most recent performance for the under 21’s was so bad that he looked timid and unsure alongside a 18-year old Tuanzebe showed it was time he left the club, for his own future – to rebuild what has so far been a wasted career.
Do you agree with this list? Or would you send a few more packing? Discuss in the comments.