Despite a disappointing FA Cup final defeat against Chelsea to finish their 2017/2018 season, Jose Mourinho and Manchester United can be proud of the progress they made this season and optimistic in their quest for more trophies going forward.
Many pundits and fans alike believe the Red Devils have taken a step backwards, with Europa League and League Cup silverware in the previous season compared to an FA Cup final defeat, Round of 16 Champions League exit and a second place finish without a real title challenge. However, Mourinho has slowly but surely put his stamp on the hit and miss squad he inherited and United have shown improvements as a result, both in defence and in attack. Inconsistent performances combined with poor tactics led to more than a couple disappointing and disheartening results but overall, they are moving in the right direction.
Ed Woodward and Manchester United have quietly wrapped up two solid deals before the World Cup began. 19-year-old Portuguese international Diogo Dalot from Porto was signed for about £17 million pounds and is a much-needed fullback reinforcement with an ageing Valencia and Young on either side of United’s current setup. Mourinho has high praise for Dalot, considering him “the best fullback in the world” in his age bracket.
Manchester United have also signed 25-year-old Brazilian international Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk for a fee of around £50 million pounds. With their midfield in need of some firepower, Fred is a quality addition who fits the bill as a box to box powerhouse. He was highly sought after by noisy neighbours Manchester City in January but no deal was made and that opened the door for United to negotiate. Comments from the President of Shakhtar showed United’s drive to get the deal done so expect Fred to be a key player for Mourinho going forward.
No different to transfer windows in the past, Manchester United have been rumoured with what seems like every available player. The hottest rumours going around are Gareth Bale and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic with fees potentially over £100 million pounds for each. At the back, Jerome Boateng and Toby Alderweireld have both been rumoured to both be available and on their way to Manchester United. With Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof recently brought in by Mourinho, the question remains as to whether there is room for another centre back. The left-back rumours continue to circulate but it looks likely that Shaw will be given another opportunity.
Michael Carrick will be retiring and joining the staff as well as Marouane Fellaini all but moving on after rejecting the current contract offer on the table. Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian have had limited minutes and look likely to move on, with Serie A teams monitoring the situations closely. Otherwise, Manchester United’s departures have been largely unreported and it seems as if Mourinho spoke the truth when he reiterated his happiness with the available selection and that Manchester United are well poised to really challenge for the title next season and bring trophies back to Old Trafford.
Written by Ammar Nazarali.