Jose Mourinho remains the last man to win silverware for Manchester United and, whether you like him or loathe him, there can be no denying that he continues to have a lasting impact at Old Trafford and beyond. It’s over three years since the charismatic Portuguese was sacked.
Another trophy-less season means there has been no such success since Mourinho got his hands on a League Cup and Europa League double in 2017. That was supposed to be the catalyst.
In truth, it has proven to be anything but that and further change is on the horizon. One cultural reboot later and it appears as though Erik ten Hag might be next up to the plate.
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A dark cloud, it was said, was lifted from the moment Mourinho was handed his P45 in December 2018. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brought hope, dreams and a positive outlook.
He did not, though, bring silverware. Ralf Rangnick was unable to, either, while Ten Hag appears set to become the next manager to steer United through stormy waters. Initial talks have been held and key figures in the Old Trafford boardroom view him as a preferred candidate.
Having finished as runners-up to Manchester City in the Premier League last term, United issued a triple statement of intent by signing Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo – although they did, crucially, miss out on a top-level defensive midfielder.
England midfielder Declan Rice is still target number one in these parts amid some concerns that West Ham might dig their heels in over a valuation for the player. Before launching that would-be pursuit, though, clarification on his long-term mentor might be required, among other things.
Scott McTominay and Fred – often criticized under Solskjaer – have been given a new lease of life by Rangnick and, in the short-term, that is one issue taken care of. It will be readdressed this summer.
Meanwhile, bombarding full-backs are on trend across the Premier League and, while Luke Shaw and Alex Telles offer competitive options on one side, United – or, more specifically, Aaron Wan-Bissaka – have been left behind by Reece James, Trent Alexander -Arnold and other pioneers on the right.
For all he gives United defensively, Wan-Bissaka’s attacking output simply does not compare. United know it.
It prompted moves to welcome Kieran Trippier back to the UK last summer. However, that fell by the wayside and Newcastle took full advantage in January.
It’s a crucial area of the pitch which has cost the Old Trafford hierarchy around £70million since 2018. That is when Mourinho approached Porto and returned with Diogo Dalot for £19million. Only 12 months later, they splashed out £49.5million more on Wan-Bissaka. But did they get it right first time around?
Having struggled to command a regular spot throughout his time here, Portugal international Dalot shone during the initial days of Rangnick’s spell and, while Wan-Bissaka has been afforded games since then, the Portugal starter has nipped past him as first choice at right-back .
That, though, comes without him tearing up any trees. Dalot may or may not prove to be the long-term answer, but he has certainly earned the right to stake a claim for the foreseeable. At the risk of proving Mourinho right, yet again, Ten Hag – if appointed – should hand Dalot first dibs next season and look at other areas to strengthen while giving the Portuguese a deserved and extended platform to shine.
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