Five Manchester United fixes that Jose Mourinho must make if he arrives
Jose Mourinho has a fairly long to-do list in his first season at Old Trafford.
With Jose Mourinho's long-rumoured move to Manchester United close to completion, there are things that he must address immediately when he arrives. Here are five:
1. Attacking firepower
The obvious area of weakness for United this season has been a lack of goals under Louis van Gaal, caused by their pedestrian style of possession football. It has led to a paltry tally of 49 goals from 38 league matches. Mourinho needs to shed his reputation for functionality and give a reminder of the goal-scoring feats of his more eye-catching teams at Chelsea (in the early days) and Real Madrid. The arrival of one of his allies from his Inter Milan stint, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, could be a step in the right direction.
2. Defensive height
United's defensive solidity has held the season together at times, with Chris Smalling and Daley Blind having formed a usually impressive partnership in central defence, but there are problems in need of remedy. The recent habit of conceding set-piece goals has exemplified that, with a lack of height and positional awareness being major issues; the likes of Blind and Marcos Rojo have been caught out at costly moments. The signing of Raphael Varane, a Mourinho protege at Madrid, would help in that regard.
3. Away day blues
Old Trafford has remained an awkward venue for teams to visit this season, highlighted by the club's late winning run on home soil this season. But it is a stark contrast to what they have done on the road. United failed to win back-to-back away league games all season, and there were defeats against lowly sides, which ultimately cost them in the top-four race. Mourinho's ability to instill shape, discipline and resilience when sides attack his teams will be beneficial in this regard.
4. Nurturing youth
One of the legacies which Van Gaal has left at United is giving valuable experience to young players, most notably Marcus Rashford, and that has laid down the foundations for what should be promising careers. It is imperative that Mourinho continues the good work. United have a tradition in this area, which needs to be revived again. The Portuguese manager needs to avoid being tarred with his reputation from his Chelsea days, when there was frustration over his failure to bring through youth players.
5. Keeping key men
It has often been worth wondering this season about what would have happened to United had they not kept hold of goalkeeper David De Gea after the bizarre falling through of his move to Real Madrid. The fact that they did keep him means that they have had some joy in the FA Cup and stayed in contention for a top-four place until the closing weekend of the season. De Gea and other star performers like Anthony Martial from this season need to stay, and the spirit has to be kept high in training.