Three players Mourinho needs to drop at Manchester United

Jose Mourinho’s start to life as Manchester United manager has not been as smooth as he would have hoped. While this is not a time to press the panic button, it was apparent his side were lacklustre and out of ideas in the 4-0 loss at Chelsea. Lewis Addley explores some potential changes he can make to freshen things up and stop his side from carrying passengers…

Being coached by Mourinho is something a whole host of the world’s best players have enjoyed since he put his name on the map as Porto manager 14 years ago, but the same cannot be said at this moment in time, as his ongoing struggles at Manchester United are not improving.

Mourinho admitted himself that life in Manchester has been difficult to adapt to and his time away from football is something he is not familiar to, living in a hotel and separate from his family.

While United are only six points off the top of the Premier League table in what already looks set to be the most competitive season ever, there is plenty of work to do to get the 20-time champions firing again.

Embed from Getty Images

A number of Mourinho’s marquee summer signings haven’t yet clicked into place and the squad appear to be disjointed and out of ideas, even more so apparent after going 1-0 down to Chelsea without touching the ball on Sunday.

Mourinho has a squad full of talented players and just three changes could potentially make a difference in terms of unpredictability, solidity and energy.

So let’s have a look at those three potential changes…

Forward play: 

Regardless of how many career titles and goals he has to his name, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has struggled in his last few appearances. He started the season well, scoring four goals in his first four games, but the big Swede needs a rest. He clearly has the ability to cause havoc to any opposition defence, but he seems to be getting lost and committing more fouls than creating chances.

He will be the last thing defenders want to see if Mourinho gives the 35-year-old legend a rest and brings him into a couple of games on the bounce with half an hour to go after some of his younger, more energetic teammates have worn down the opposition.

Embed from Getty Images

Verdict: Rest Ibrahimovic and play Rashford in his natural position as a striker. The Englishman will bring in more energy and pace to the attack, leaving the option for Ibra to swoop in for the kill later in the game.

In the middle: 

Everybody knows Mourinho loves a holding midfielder to dominate games with strength and the ability to break up play. But at the moment, the United midfield as a whole have failed to get to grips with fast-paced games, and they’re not being streetwise enough to stop counter attacks as well as creating moves of their own.

Mourinho should look at pulling Marouane Fellaini out of the side. Yes, the big man can cause chaos in the box offensively, but he isn’t doing it. Fellaini has features of his game that make for a player who can have an influence, but he is not a controlling midfielder, he doesn’t dominate games and doesn’t bring an atmosphere of calm to the side.

Embed from Getty Images

Verdict: Drop Fellaini for Michael Carrick or Bastian Schweinsteiger. Mourinho won’t want to backtrack on his decision to ostracise Schweinsteiger from the squad but these two players have unparalleled experience compared to their teammates and can instil a sense of calm to any top-class midfield.

The world’s most expensive player:

An awful lot has been made of Paul Pogba’s slow start to life back in Manchester and it is so obvious he needs some help. While he may be the most expensive player in the world, the Frenchman didn’t ask for that price tag and it is weighing him down. The pressure becomes more intense in each game he underperforms.

Pogba will clearly become a great, he has the talent, personality and is likeable, but he needs a bit of time out of the side to find his feet again. His confidence has been rocked and now is the time for Mourinho to offer him support, like he has done down the years with key players everywhere he has been.

Embed from Getty Images

Verdict: Make Pogba work for this place by pulling him from the starting XI, get an arm around him to make him feel valued and under less pressure. Bring Juan Mata back in, he has plenty of Premier League experience and the creative edge to his game Pogba hasn’t yet shown.

There is work to be done at United, but if they can get on a run of form they will soon silence their critics and despite some poor results, they can close the gap on the title chasing pack.

Should Mourinho make these changes at United? Who do you think should be recalled to the starting XI?

Advertisements

What does signing Paul Pogba actually mean for Manchester United?

The summer-long transfer saga regarding Paul Pogba was finally and perhaps unsurprisingly put to rest today as the Frenchman completed his £89 million return to Manchester United. But what does his arrival actually mean for the club? Lewis Addley explores…

In a summer market of crazy transfer fees, Paul Pogba has become the world’s most expensive player at £89 million, how long that fee will remain the highest remains to be seen. Pundits and fans alike have cast their opinion on just about every talking point regarding the 23-year-old Frenchman, from topics such as how Pogba is or isn’t worth the money to whether Manchester United actually need him.

So let’s have a look at what Pogba’s sensational return to United actually means for the club in terms of how Jose Mourinho will be able to get the best out of the highly-rated Frenchman and the impact his arrival could have on their current midfielders.

Where exactly can we expect Pogba to play?

Pogba netted eight goals last season for Juventus in Serie A from a central midfield role and in the modern game he plays a somewhat old-fashioned style. Pogba doesn’t tend to be deployed as an attacking midfielder, despite the fact that he can be a sensational finisher from inside and outside the box. He dictates the play, evident from the fact that his passing statistics are far more impressive than his shooting statistics. Pogba managed an average of 83% passing accuracy compared to 37% shot accuracy in Serie A last season.

Embed from Getty Images

Jose Mourinho is widely expected to play his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation on the opening weekend of the Premier League season. We can expect the new signings to feature from the off, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic set to lead the line. Behind him, Anthony Martial should start on the left, captain Wayne Rooney in behind in his preferred number ten role with Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the right to form a frightening trio of attacking support. With those front four slots occupied, it is clear Pogba is likely to be used in an anchoring role, deep through the centre of the park, most likely alongside Morgan Schneiderlin.

Will midfielders be leaving now Pogba has joined?

As everyone was still waiting for Pogba to be announced, Mourinho made it very clear that he was looking to bring in one more ‘high-quality player’ and have his business done before the opening weekend of the season. With that in mind it doesn’t look like the United boss is looking to offload any other players than those who have already been reported.

Juan Mata’s torrid relationship with Mourinho came into question once again after he was substituted just 27 minutes after coming on in Sunday’s Community Shield final win over Leicester City. Despite Mourinho giving what some may accept as an appropriate reason for Mata being replaced, it has only increased speculation on the Spaniard’s future at the club.

Embed from Getty Images

The future of Bastian Schweinsteiger remains up in the air. It has been made apparent that the German is surplus to requirements and he looks set to be on his way out from the club just one season after joining.

It looks likely that Mourinho has Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini in his plans, but just how much playing time the three midfielders will amass is unclear.

The remaining midfielders in question will not be expected to challenge for a holding role at the club as they are either wingers or upcoming youth talent. One worth mentioning is Daley Blind, the dutchman can play in the holding role but he has predominantly featured at the back for United.

Embed from Getty Images

There is no doubt the arrival of Pogba will be a boost for the United camp and some of his teammates have already taken to social media to show their excitement of his return. It is clear he has already made a huge impact in terms of talking points but now it is time for him to step up and deliver, to show any doubters that £89 million is a worthwhile fee for his services.

Is Pogba worth £89 million and are United right to have resigned the Frenchman?

Arsenal legend says Pogba “can be one of best in history” – but is he worth £100m?

French midfield star Paul Pogba might be preparing for a huge semifinal clash with Germany tonight, but that hasn’t stopped him from being continuously linked with a world-record transfer away from Juventus this summer.

Former club Manchester United are said to be preparing a £100 million bid for his signature, with Jose Mourinho keen on bringing the 23-year-old star to Old Trafford before the summer transfer window shuts.

Real Madrid are also interested, with the player’s agent, Mino Raiola confirming last month that initial talks had taken place with the Spanish giants.

Embed from Getty Images

Whichever way you look at it, Pogba is in demand. He is wanted by the top clubs around the world and they are seemingly prepared to smash the world-record transfer fee to get him. But is he worth that sort of investment?

Well according to Arsenal legend and fellow Frenchman Thierry Henry, the answer is yes. Henry told Sky Sports that he feels Pogba “can be one of the best midfielders in history”.

“He has the quality to do that, the pundit added. “He needs to make sure he concentrates on what he can do well.

“What I love about him at the moment is that he’s doing what the team’s asking him to do; maybe he’s sometimes a bit more fancy at Juventus but because Griezmann is playing behind Giroud for France, he has to defend a bit more.

Embed from Getty Images

“That’s the sign of his intelligence. He’s playing within himself in a way, to make sure the team has the right balance.”

That balance that Henry mentions has seen France reach the semifinals of the tournament, without really looking like the dominant force many expected them to be this summer.

Yes, they blew away Iceland in that 5-2 quarterfinal demolition last week – with Pogba himself netting his first goal of the tournament in that rout – but aside from that, they’ve struggled to break teams down until very late in games.

Take nothing away from them for getting to where they are now. But as a team France haven’t set the tournament alight. And the same can be said for Pogba.

Embed from Getty Images

The Juventus star ended last season with eight goals and 12 assists in 35 Serie A appearances. However, for France at Euro 2016, Pogba has registered just one goal and has picked up no assists as of yet.

He might be playing a slightly different role under Didier Deschamps, but Pogba has only won 36% of his tackles at the tournament and has committed a total of 11 fouls in five matches – the joint-fourth highest number at the competition.

Table: Pogba's Euro 2016 statistics ahead of semifinal - (Stats via Squawka).

Table: Pogba’s Euro 2016 statistics ahead of semifinal – (Stats via Squawka).

Dimitri Payet has overshadowed him as Les Bleus’ standout performer and while there is no doubting his ability, Pogba is not yet the player that many want him to be.

He is blessed with raw pace, impressive power and more flair than most central midfielders on the planet. However, his overall game as a central midfielder needs polishing still.

He may only be 23 years of age, but if clubs are willing to spend £100 million to secure your services, you need to be a complete package. And it’s unclear whether Pogba is that just yet…

Do you think Paul Pogba is worth £100 million? Will he be one of the best midfielders in history?

STATS: Can Juventus star replace Yaya Toure at Manchester City?

Juventus midfield superstar, Paul Pogba, is looking like the main transfer story of the summer so far and is top of many top clubs’ shopping lists, with the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City and PSG among those searching for his signature.

Former club Manchester United have also been linked but Pogba could join the blue side of Manchester since reports emerged that Yaya Toure is likely to be heading out of the club this summer.

Pogba, who has won his third Serie A title in a row this season, is one of few that are similar to Toure in stature and playing style and City are keen to acquire the Frenchman.

Embed from Getty Images

Should Pogba make the move, it is reported that his salary would be approximately £250,000-a-week after tax, making him the highest paid midfielder in the world.

So how does the promising youngster weigh up against Toure? We compare their league stats from this term:

Yaya Toure Stat Paul Pogba
31 Age 22
27 Appearances 23
8 Goals 8
1 Assists 2
89% Pass Completion % 83
21 Tackles Won 45
30 Key Passes 32
31 Chances Created 34

Judging from the stats above, there is a clear indication that Pogba can replicate the performances from Yaya Toure this year, and with potential to get much better, Pogba should be a worthy investment.

It is worth noting that this has not been Yaya Toure’s greatest season at Manchester City but the Juventus star’s statistics speak volumes about how influential he is.

Do you think Paul Pogba will replace Yaya Toure at Manchester City? Would he be the perfect signing for City?

Liverpool legend reveals who City need after ‘pathetic’ title defence

It is no secret that Manchester City have not been good enough this season and will have to make some key changes over the summer to come back as a force again next season.

And Liverpool legend Jamie Redknapp has told Sky Sports that City need Paul Pogba after a ‘pathetic’ defence of their Premier League title.

“I expect Yaya Toure to leave Manchester City this summer – and they need to sign Paul Pogba to replace him,” Redknapp said.

Embed from Getty Images

“After winning two trophies last season, this has been a pathetic defence of their Premier League title from City and their ageing squad desperately needs refreshing.”

Many of Europe’s elite have been linked with Juventus ace Pogba, and his services will require a world record transfer fee, according to his agent.

Transfermarkt.co.uk rate Pogba at £44 million, which is £42 million less than the current record transfer fee that saw Gareth Bale move to Real Madrid in 2013.

Redknapp highly regards Pogba and says it is no surprise that so many clubs are chasing his services.

“He’s a fantastic talent who can do everything. Players like him don’t come along very often and at 22 years old he has a huge future in front of him.”

Embed from Getty Images

If City are to sign Pogba it will be a real kick in the teeth to the Frenchman’s former club, Manchester United, to see him sign for their noisy neighbours.

The young midfield enforcer has been linked with Paris Saint Germain, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City so whoever wins the race for his signature will be a stronger force.

Is Paul Pogba what City need and is a move for him possible?

United, City and Chelsea target available if ‘right offer’ arrives

Ever since Paul Pogba left Manchester United in 2012 on a bosman transfer, he has gone on to become one of the hottest young prospects in world football.

Since joining Juventus, Pogba has become a mainstay in the starting eleven, winning back-to-back Serie A titles and he also impressed at the World Cup last summer as he was named Best Young Player of the tournament in Brazil.

The French midfielder’s agent admits if the ‘right offer’ is made, he will be sold this summer, with no shortage of interested parties. The young Frenchman continues to be linked with some of the Europe’s biggest clubs such as Real Madrid, his former club Manchester United, ChelseaManchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

Embed from Getty Images

His agent, Mino Raiola, told La Stampa: “With Juventus we signed for five years, but we’re all grown men and if the right offer comes along for Pogba, then the deal will be struck.”

Raiola has also warned Juventus to spend the money wisely should they sell Pogba in the coming months.

“But what’s most important for Juve will be rebuilding the team with that money, otherwise we’ll remark two years from now that they made a mistake,” he added.

“You should keep changing when you’re strong, and not just when you’re forced to. Next year they could do with four or five players.”

Embed from Getty Images

Raiola went on to reveal that he has received over 2,000 calls since the beginning of the year regarding Pogba.

“I must have received more than 2,000 phone calls for him from the beginning of the year. Almost 20 a day, at least a couple of which were to negotiate.

“But they were only worth an engagement, not an actual wedding,” he concluded

Where do you think Paul Pogba’s next move will be?

Manchester United plotting HUGE £72m offer for midfield powerhouse

Manchester United have stepped up their efforts to attempt to secure Paul Pogba this summer by readying an offer of £54 million as well as £18 million-rated Robin van Persie to Juventus, according to the Express.

Pogba is attracting interest from clubs all over Europe, including the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, and Tuttomercatoweb claims that Juve are willing to cash in on the French star this summer.

United let one of the most sought after midfielders in Europe leave the club on a free in 2012 and now look set to break their transfer record to resign the 22-year-old powerhouse.

Pogba’s agent has claimed it will take a world-record fee to sign Pogba, a record that is currently held by Gareth Bale’s £86 million transfer to Real Madrid, so United will need to prepare another £15 million on top of their reported offer just to meet that statement.

Embed from Getty Images

The French international is currently sidelined for seven weeks so looks set to miss the remainder of Juventus’s run-in and if a summer move goes ahead he could have played his last game for the club.

If Pogba is to return to United it will potentially be one of the biggest transfers of all-time and his contribution to the side would go some way to helping Louis Van Gaal continue to rebuild the club.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly the only side that have put a concrete offer on the table but United look set to come in with an offer valuing £72 million in total, and will be confident they can get their man at that price.

Should Paul Pogba be Manchester United’s transfer priority this summer?

Chelsea and Juventus could be set for HUGE £80m swap deal

Italian giants Juventus are reportedly interested in signing Chelsea playmaker and Brazilian superstar, Oscar in a deal that could see Paul Pogba head to England in what would be one of the biggest swap deals in football history. According to the Daily Mirror, the Serie A sides’ desire to sign Oscar could give Chelsea the chance to sign Pogba ahead of a host of European giants. Juventus are looking to instigate a £20m deal to secure the services of the Chelsea playmaker, who has endured an impressive but difficult season under Jose Mourinho, as he has been in and out of the side. Embed from Getty Images The Old Lady could provide Oscar with a guaranteed first-team place, and Chelsea could have the opportunity to sign Pogba if a potential deal goes ahead. Juventus have claimed it would need to be a world record deal to secure the Frenchman and a fee of at least £60 million would be required. Jose Mourinho has been coy on his transfer ideas for this summer but he will want to strengthen his squad in order to reduce poor performances which could have been avoided so far this season as the Blues look to dominate English football. If any potential agreement between the clubs is to be made it will have to be a player-plus-cash deal on Chelsea’s behalf, though Mourinho has highlighted the importance of meeting the guidelines of FIFA’s Financial Fair Play on several occasions and that could affect any move. Embed from Getty Images Oscar has featured 24 times in the Premier League so far this season, scoring six times and creating seven goals. By comparison, Paul Pogba has made 22 Serie A appearances, scoring seven with two assists. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain have all been linked with moves for Pogba and he looks set to be the most in-demand player in Europe this summer. Would a swap deal between Chelsea and Juventus for Oscar and Paul Pogba make sense?