A five-point plan for Jose Mourinho to make Man United a success story
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho faces a sizeable rebuilding job if he is to make the club a powerful force again.He inherited a shot-shy and vulnerable squad who finished fifth in the Premier League last season, but there have already been steps in the right direction with the signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly.
Here is a five-point plan for what Mourinho needs to do to rejuvenate United.
1. Sign Paul Pogba
Sealing this deal is not just about what the player would bring on the pitch; it is about the message it would send. Securing the services of such a sought-after player would be a statement of intent, showing that United have their sights set on cementing their position as one of the world's heavyweight clubs. The sum involved will be unprecedented and astronomical, with £100 million mooted, and -- if they can pull it off -- it should frighten their opponents about the future. It would also wrap up the core transfer business that United want to do and clear the way for further deals.
2. Change the style
The football that was often served up last season -- shackled, cautious and dull -- was not worthy of a club of United's stature. Mourinho's approach often tends to be pragmatic, with winning at any cost the target, but he needs to inject dynamism here. That would build goodwill from the fans from the outset and help turn Old Trafford into a place to fear again. It would also help Mourinho's own reputation if he were to re-create the attacking style that his teams produced at times at Real Madrid and Chelsea. His own management approach needs to change, too. He'd do well to avoid too many off-field fights with the likes of Pep Guardiola, which could backfire.
3. Shrink the squad
The last thing that Mourinho needs is personality clashes and fall-outs with players. He said in his opening news conference that he wants to avoid having disaffected squad members. That means he will have to create another closely knit squad, which will mean cutting back on numbers. In previous jobs, he has preferred to work with a smaller core, and that will have to happen again; fringe players who have flopped need to be moved out, preferably at good value. That list should perhaps include the likes of Memphis Depay and Marcos Rojo, who both played a part in last season's below-par performance.
Memphis Depay could be deemed surplus to requirements.
4. Trust in youth
Mourinho has already shown his sensitivity about the issue of promoting youth -- unveiling a prepared statement about this in his opening news conference -- and that issue is a stick that will be used to beat him if he does not actively develop players and leave a legacy. The raw talent is there at United, which was shown so clearly last season as 18-year-old Marcus Rashford stormed through and earned a spot on the England squad at Euro 2016. Mourinho needs to make sure that he keeps nurturing the likes of Rashford and Timothy Fosu-Mensah while also attempting to bring through others. The temptation will be there in opening games to field the more experienced heads in attack, but he needs to think carefully about it.
5. Solve the Rooney conundrum
Mourinho will be expected to make the most of young attackers such as Anthony Martial and Rashford, while also proving that he was right to splash out on Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan. If he opts regularly for a 4-2-3-1 formation, then that could heavily curtail Rooney's game time in comparison to the regular spot he commanded last season. Rooney is a big personality and an iconic figure at the club (not to mention the captain), and Mourinho will want to avoid the sorts of problems he had at Madrid with stars like Iker Casillas. This needs to be handled with care, but the fact that Mourinho has already stated Rooney is not a midfielder suggests there will be a time when this situation comes to a head.