The winds of change are swirling around Old Trafford ahead of the summer transfer window.
Louis van Gaal may well lead Manchester United to FA Cup and Champions League qualifying glory this season – they’re now level on points with fourth-placed Manchester City and into the latter stages of the Europa League – but that will almost certainly be a parting gift from the under-fire Dutchman.
Indeed, in what seems to be the worst-kept secret in world football since Manchester City’s appointment of Pep Guardiola, the tabloids, the broadsheets, the BBC and well, pretty much everybody, share the belief that Jose Mourinho will take over at Old Trafford next season.
New managers always mean new signings which, in turn, mean inevitable departures. So with that in mind and the summer transfer window by no means as far away as it may seem, Football Fancast have taken a look at FIVE players Mourinho looks set to axe upon his arrival.
A pet project of Louis van Gaal that’s already gone slightly sour, the appointment of Jose Mourinho will be the making or breaking of Memphis Depay.
The Portuguese has always insisted on incredible work-rate from his wide men – even Eden Hazard received his fair public criticism for a lassez-faire approach to tracking back – and those who refuse to provide it are simply left to rot in the reserves.
That defensive approach has a knack of ruining wingers; see Andre Schurrle, Mohamed Salah and Juan Cuadrado for example; so the Netherlands international might be better off jumping ship anyway.
Regardless, something tells me Mourinho won’t be too fond of the often work-shy youngster. Depay might survive the summer window purely due to all the fuss surrounding his 2015 arrival, but his United career may not span much longer under the Special One.
Some might deem it a rather insignificant change, considering Sergio Romero is a decent if unspectacular goalkeeper who has performed adequately as understudy to David De Gea.
But Jose Mourinho has always favoured dependable goalkeepers who rarely make mistakes and command their area well – Petr Cech and Real Madrid’s David Lopez being the more notable examples – over the more flashy, error-prone shot-stoppers.
Unfortunately for Romero, he firmly belongs in the latter category and of all the departments in a squad, goalkeeper is usually the cheapest to change.
But Mourinho is no fool and will only let Romero leave if he has a replacement lined up first – and, of course, if he manages to keep Real Madrid’s hands off David De Gea.
On the surface, Marouane Fellaini is Jose Mourinho’s kind of player. He’s a battering ram of aerial menace, likes a bit of handbags at half-mast and makes up in effectiveness (well, some of the time) for what he lacks in style.
In short, he’s a very pragmatic kind of player and Mourinho is a notoriously pragmatic kind of manager, who will certainly respect some of the Belgium international’s unique quirks.
But Fellaini is now into his third season at Old Trafford and barring a few months of brilliance under Louis van Gaal last term, has continuously disappointed through his disturbing lack of technical ability.
The towering midfielder is a Mourinho player but not a United player, and he seems certain to be moved on regardless of who is in charge of the Red Devils next season.
No, I’m not suggesting Jose Mourinho’s inaugural act as Manchester United manager will be to sell every player whose first name begins with M.
But Mourinho defenders tend to fill a certain criteria; they’re overtly physical, rugged, often somewhat slow, old-fashioned and incredibly reliable. It would be wrong to suggest all are carbon copies of John Terry, but they rarely deviate too far from the Chelsea skipper’s no-nonsense style.
So bearing in my United will almost certainly try to find a long-term partner to Chris Smalling this summer, logic suggests it might be the end of the line for Marcos Rojo.
The Argentine lacks that physical presence and commanding aura, whilst his endless injury problems since signing for United after the 2014 World Cup represent another reason to sell.
You all knew it was coming – and so does Juan Mata. Jose Mourinho infamously ousted the Spain international from Stamford Bridge in January 2014, just six months after claiming a second Player of the Year award with Chelsea, and has been widely tipped to do so again at Manchester United this summer.
Some have suggested the Portuguese will put more effort into accommodating the midfield maestro this time around. He is, after all, an incredibly talented player and the issue at Chelsea was fitting him into the same attacking trio as Oscar and Eden Hazard whilst maintaining a balanced starting Xi.
But limited physicality and complete obliviousness in defensive situations remain Mata’s fundamental weaknesses that Mourinho will struggle to overlook at the second time of asking.
Furthermore, the club seem unlikely to extend his contract past 2018 anyway, at which point he’ll be 30 years of age, so I can’t imagine the United hierarchy trying to convince Mourinho not to sell.