When Manchester United manager José Mourinho talked at the weekend about Old Trafford as his ‘new house’ there was a feeling that he intends to stay at United far longer than he has at any of his previous clubs.
Of course things can change very quickly with such a volatile personality and he did, after all, look certain to stay at Chelsea for a much longer period in his second stint, until Carneiro Gate – a fiasco which is currently being dragged through the courts.
But we think that Mourinho must have learnt from his painful episode at Chelsea and we also feel that he always coveted the Manchester United job with more relish than most.
This is perhaps Mourinho’s last chance to show that he is the best coach in the world.
So how will he mould his side and what would be the ideal team (within the bounds of credibility) for next season?
In front of David de Gea there is a lot of uncertainty. Louis van Gaal regularly spoke of how good his defence was but this was because his whole team was set up so cautiously with numbers behind the ball at all times.
The recent reports of a move for Eric Bailly, a 22-year-old centre back from Villarreal, may suggest to many that a move for John Stones is off the table.
The Guardian wrote this evening:
José Mourinho set to make Eric Bailly his first Manchester United signing
But we believe that Manchester United will still try to prise the super-talented youngster from Everton. Most coaches like a ball-playing centre-back next to a powerhouse and neither Smalling or Bailly could be comfortably described that way.
At left-back Luke Shaw will have a real fight on his hands against the superb emerging talent of Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. The one question mark over the youngster is his pace and that’s the only weakness that we can see in his game right now.
Smalling can be clumsy at the back but has many qualities so perhaps Bailly could be pushed out to the right next season with Stones and Smalling in the middle.
The midfield may also need work, depending on the role of Wayne Rooney. He looks increasingly suited to a position in the midfield and he gets the ball moving better than anyone since Paul Scholes. But if Manchester United could bring in Paul Pogba to play alongside Michael Carrick, Bastian Schweinsteiger or Morgan Schneiderlin then Rooney may get one more season at number 10.
With Zlatan at number 9 many of you may be worried about a lack of pace. But that should be provided in bucket loads by Anthony Martial on the left and Marcus Rashford and/or Willian on the right.
So here is an XI that we think would make Mourinho and Manchester United serious contenders for The Premier League and Europa League next season. There is no starting place for Rashford but he will get plenty game time as the season progresses.
Let’s have your thoughts Manchester United fans