Ok, I’m writing this directly after our fourth consecutive Premier League home draw, the 1-1 stalemate with West Ham United. As a result, I may be a little on the flustered side…
The January transfer window is now a little over a month away, and it appears as if it has now become a period in which may define our season. Admittedly, our performances are beyond comparison when measured with those of the Louis Van Gaal era, but when we flip back to the same period last season, we sat in second place only a point behind Leicester City who were perched on top of the Premier League table. We are also currently seven points worse off than at the same stage a year ago. So, whilst the performances do have a more fluid feel to them, it seems the killer instinct that we saw so often under Sir Alex Ferguson has well and truly dispersed. That’s not completely down to the aforementioned former manager.
Jose Mourinho was aware of the grand rebuilding job that was needed at Old Trafford when he took over the managers position this past summer, but I’m not sure he realised as to what scale that rebuilding job would incur. The deadwood (Fellaini, I’m looking at you here) still linger around like a 1990s Cranberries song and it is the January transfer window that offers Mourinho an opportunity to bring in some fresh meat capable of pushing United back towards a top four challenge, as unlikely as that may seem based on the evidence presented to us at this moment in time.
Traditionally, the January transfer window is a tough time for any top club to add any top reinforcements, which poses the question of exactly who Mourinho will target as 2017 hits. The rumour mills have, of course, been in overdrive, so let’s take a look at exactly who could be on Jose’s radar…
The Chelsea midfielder is one that has been linked with the club in recent days, reinforced by his past links with Mourinho. It is true that the Brazilian enjoyed his best moments at Stamford Bridge during the club’s last Premier League triumph and he has struggled to become a mainstay in the team since Conte took over this past summer.
With Chelsea not currently participating in European football, Willian could be viewed as a very real possibility and, with United desperately short of out-and-out wingers, Mourinho could turn his attentions back towards his former club.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of Willian. I accept he had a cracking opening couple of seasons at Chelsea, but his form has tailed off at an alarming rate. I dare say that there would be some Chelsea fans willing to drive him to Old Trafford themselves.
Perhaps one of the biggest worries currently is the lack of defensive cover. Mourinho has regularly spoken of his desire to add to his back four, more so with the injury to Eric Bailly. As a result, it is reported that Benfica centre back Victor Lindelof is high on the list of priorities for the manager.
The Swedish international is currently one of the hottest prospects in Europe, with a number of clubs rumoured to be looking at the 22-year-old and it is thought that Mourinho could be looking to act early to bring the young defender to Old Trafford.
A traditional no-nonsense type of defender, Lindelof likes to play out from the back, which only enhances his reputation. This is the kind of defender in which Mourinho needs at Old Trafford. Acting swiftly on this transfer is imperative. After all, even Zlatan is keen.
Another winger heavily linked with a switch to Old Trafford is Sporting Lisbon’s Portuguese international Gelson Martins.
At 21-years-old, Martins is another who is thought could have a glittering career, having progressed through the same academy system once occupied by Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani. This is an option which, to me, is far more appealing than that of Willian, although it is thought that the youngster would possess a high transfer fee.
Martins is also comfortable operating as a right-back, enhancing his appeal to Mourinho.
This is the rumour that just won’t go away isn’t it?
Rodriguez has struggled to maintain a regular place at Real Madrid in recent times and it is thought that the Colombian could be on his way out of the Bernabeu. However, these rumours have been at the forefront for some time now and anything concrete is yet to materialise.
With Chelsea also rumoured to be interested in the attacker, Mourinho may be keen to explore this option further. James is undoubtedly a very talented player and one that would definitely enhance our attacking options although, with the recent injury to Gareth Bale, Madrid may be tempted to hold onto their asset until the summer.
So there you have it. A quick round-up of the types of names the club have been linked with thus far. Personally, I think it is too early to have any kind of indication as to who Mourinho will target in January and I would make improving the back four a priority. Yes, we are struggling for wingers, with Rashford and Mata both regularly played on the flanks, but I feel it is at the back where we are particularly vulnerable.
There will be several names linked with the club between now and New Years Day. Who would you like to see in red? Please comment below