In a recent interview with CNN, Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho suggested he didn’t understand the blame from supporters and pundits alike amid a season without a trophy yet. Having failed in the Champions League, EFL cup, and with the League all but assured to cross-town rivals City; United see their only opportunity to lift a trophy in the FA cup where they have drawn Spurs in the semi-finals.
“You had the biggest clubs with moments of transition. These are phases of the club.” Mourinho said.
While Mourinho sees the silver lining, and even suggested someone with “common sense” and “brains” can see that United are, indeed, a side in transition while still achieving the above, which includes the FA Cup, EFL Cup, and the Europa title in the previous two campaigns (albeit Mourinho wasn’t at the helm for the FA Cup triumph); there is no denying that a gap exists between them and City, with the likes of Liverpool, Spurs, and Chelsea not far behind.
It seems inevitable that another summer of heavy spending will occur, and United, in their bid to close the gap to challenge likely League winners City, will need to spend.
The first question mark is at left back where Ashley Young, naturally a winger, continues to start in front of Luke Shaw. For whatever reason, after a multitude of injuries, Shaw just can’t seem to win over Mourinho. With his contract set to expire, the often defensive minded, specialist at position Mourinho will likely prioritize this position. Defensively, Shaw is more than adequate; admitted as such by Mourinho. As was seen in their FA Cup tie with Brighton where Shaw started, and it wasn’t even 25 minutes into the match before we saw Mourinho gesturing angrily for Shaw to get forward and called on Young to start warming up.
The likelihood Shaw signs a new deal, even if he was offered such at this point, is extraordinary at best. It is also unlikely Daley Blind returns next year as well. United will move for a new option at left back and have been linked with the likes of Juve’s Alex Sandro, Spurs’ Dany Rose, Celtic’s Kieran Tierney, and Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon.
Speaking of full backs, with clouds of doubt over the future of Matteo Darmian, the long-term option for right back will need to be addressed soon. While Antonio Valencia has been an absolute stud in this position for United, he will be 33 come the start of next season and the longevity of his career is far from certain. I wouldn’t expect to see this prioritized in the summer, the long-term successor will require identification before too long.