1. DOWN TO BUSINESS
Aided by the fact that late in 2015 after being sacked by Chelsea he had some time out of a job, he clearly wasted no time feeling sorry for himself and has a clear idea of the personnel he feels that the team requires to challenge for the Premier League next term. The less saga relating to player acquisition the better, although Mino Raiola may feel differently about this.
2. MARCUS RASHFORD
Marcus Rashford is one of the most exciting prospects in English football. Ibrahimovic is the perfect mentor and complement to Rashford’s play and development. Jose already spoke about their average age being the perfect striker’s age and the fact that he merely spoke about them in the same breath excited every United fan. Zlatan is the perfect foil to Rashford. Not only will he reduce the pressure on his young shoulders but in potential times of goal shortage will also have the strength of character to deflect and soak up the majority of criticism.
3. AGGRESSION, AMBITION, HONESTY
Jose has come to a club that could be his for many years to come. I appreciated that he was massively complimentary about being at the biggest club in the country, but still has Chelsea in his heart. He also showed ambition when he spoke about winning the league, not just being content with a Champion’s League spot. He also took less than five minutes to jibe at Arsene Wenger. He will not lose who he is and we are grateful for it. No United fan wants a tame or neutered Jose Mourinho in that dugout. I can guarantee he will spend a LOT of time in that underused technical area.
4. SPINAL SURGERY
Mourinho has quickly moved to strengthen the spine of the team for the coming season. In the past he has had a formidable team core consisting of Casillas Ramos Alonso Ronaldo and also the famous Cech Terry Lampard Drogba whose team achievements are there for all to see. Whilst Smalling settled into the leader centre back role, his ally Daley Blind failed to inspire confidence from the majority of United fans (personally I thought he had a great season there considering his natural position). Mourinho has stated he prefers specialists rather than multi functional players, and for this reason he sanctioned the transfer of Eric Bailly from Villarreal.
5. DE GEA, THE STAYER
Keeping David de Gea at the club is as important as any transfer he could conduct this season and this was one of the first tasks Jose carried out. He is the best goalkeeper on the planet and historically United’s success has relied heavily on a team spine that was rested on the shoulders of a fantastic goalkeeper. The two phases of our best success in the Premier League came when Peter Schmeichel or Edwin van der Sar were between the goalposts.
6. TRANSFER POLICIES
Jose has satisfied both footballing and commercial aspects of the transfer market, buying a fast playmaker and goalscorer Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund whilst also buying star quality and bona fide football jersey seller Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The 35 year old superstar has been offered a 1 year contract, which is keeping in line with the one year rolling contract preference at the club for mature players.
Even though he would be forgiven for ignoring youth for a season or two in exchange for important trophies, Mourinho has acted to show his understanding of the culture of the football club. He also made it clear that promotion to the first team will be on merit only, not due to injuries. Although Louis van Gaal promoted many players from the Academy to the first team, it will always be debated whether this was purely accidental or if he left the squad size small to accommodate this possibility. This gives hope as there are many players that have the potential to make that jump. Mourinho has himself hinted at certain players he is aware of, such as the talented Axel Tuanzebe (pictured below vs Hull)
8. WINNERS AND SKIPPERS
Jose has the precious experience of previously winning the Premier League, but he understands that winners keep winning. This is why he has not overlooked experience that is so pivotal to the team’s chances this season. He has given Michael Carrick at least another year in the squad, which I thought was a masterstroke as Carrick had a huge part to play in the domination of Sir Alex’s last seven years in the sport. Players like Carrick, Rooney, Smalling and De Gea know what it is like to win the league. We also have many captains of their nations which I think is quite important as these players are familiar with responsibility and will not shy from it (Schweinstiger, Ibrahimovic, Rooney, Mkhitaryan).
Although it has only been a few years since Mourinho’s failed attempts to court Rooney to Chelsea, I feel he has laid down the gauntlet to the England captain: play well or you’re done. He has refused to be drawn into the popular belief that Rooney is a central midfielder in the making. By keeping Rooney as a forward, he has essentially thrown him into the pit with Zlatan, Rashford, Martial and Mkhitaryan. No one is bigger than the club, if Rooney can’t help the team win trophies he will be sidelined.