Category Archives: Blog

Manchester United Handed Tough Group!

Manchester United have been handed a very tough group in this years Champions League Draw.

Having been in Pot 2 for the draw the three time champions are placed alongside: Juventus, Valencia and BSC Young Boys.

Going off current form Man United may struggle to gain qualification from this group and they need to use this International break wisely and regroup and focus as their league form so far has been embarrassing. The Champions League is a stage for the big stars to shine and perform something that the United players so far have not been doing; players such as Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez need to improve and find form quickly if they want their club to progress within this illustrious tournament.

The draw also signals the return of the fan favourite Cristiano Ronaldo as his new side Juventus will travel to Old Trafford once more. Ronaldo, whom only this season moved to the Italian champions for just under £100 million will undoubtedly be excited about the prospect about returning to the club where his global domination began in front of the fans who still hold him close to their heart.

These fixtures could prove vital in the outcome of Jose Mourinho’s job and he will hope they will be a springboard for success and a catalyst of change for the Manchester club.

(Picture:www.skysports.com)

Jose Mourinho To Enter His Third Season At Manchester United: Is It Now Or Never?

In America right now Jose Mourinho and Manchester United are playing friendly games and slowly building up to the start of the 2018/2019 Premier League season.

United, Mourinho and their opponents, Leicester City, have the honour (if that is the right term because of television demands) to kick off the new season a day before all the other Premiership teams, on Friday 10th August 8: 00 pm at Old Trafford. Mourinho, however, does not come across at the moment as someone happy in his job and it could be argued there are extenuating circumstances for this.

Firstly for the first two friendly matches in America, the United squad was a mix of first team, reserves and youth players on the fringe of their careers. With some of Mourinho’s major players/ stars having extended late holidays after their excursions in the FIFA World Cup.

Secondly, with the transfer season in the UK closing the day before the Premiership season kicks-off, Thursday 9th August, there is a sense of urgency around strengthening the present United squad. However having already added three new recruits to the United roster you might think Mourinho would be happy. The new recruits it could be argued are hardly marquee signings destined to get the supporters pulses racing.

Of the three new men the Brazilian ‘Fred’ is the most high profile, but as he was an unused substitute for Brazil in the World Cup, his signing seems hardly overwhelming. He may in time fulfil the Michael Carrick role but as yet the jury must be out. Rumours persist of specific new signings destined to come to the club, the most interesting being the approaches for England’s centre-back Harry McGuire and Chelsea’s Willian, but as yet there is nothing concrete with either of these speculations. Given then the situation, in one sense Mourinho”s demeanour is very understandable, however, there is also the personal ‘X-factor’ to throw into the current situation.

On joining United from being sacked from Chelsea, Mourinho signed a three-year contract. As he enters his third season in charge he must be aware that there has to be a significant improvement in his results if he is to be around for the start the fourth season.

While finishing second last season, a marked improvement on his first season in the Premiership, United were still so far behind Manchester City it was little short of embarrassing. Add to that an inept display in the FA CUP Final at Wembley last May resulting in losing to his former club Chelsea, and it all meant a season of discontent and discomfort.

It must be argued that when Mourinho took over from Louise VanGaal the club was in a mess. Both Van Gall and the manager before him David Moyes had collaborated to knock the heart of the clubs attacking philosophy, known by many as the ‘United Way’.

Under Mourinho, there has been an undoubted improvement in style and results however United are still short in particular areas. Mourinho’s outbursts and criticisms about some United players have also not gone down well with lots of clubs supporters.

The stakes then for Mourinho, United and the coming Premiership challenge could not be higher, and to an extent are very much tied up to the next few days. If there are no new recruits then Mourinho will have to get more out of the squad than he did last season. If there are new recruits then Mourinho’s job will be to blend them into a more productive unit and hope that as far as the Premiership is concerned, United will be able to challenge Manchester City or the team which sits at the Premiership summit in a more exciting and consistent way.

jim@1211plussubs

Brilliant Beckham

Beckham has an enduring place in my heart, as he was a truly magnificent player whose quality at United and contribution during our period of success cannot be undervalued. He was a quite superb dead ball specialist whose corners and free kicks created havoc for opposing defenders and goalkeepers alike. He was the sort of winger that strikers thrive off, who had an unerring accuracy in knowing the position to place the ball so that they had maximum potential to be able to supply the finishing touch. He was a member of the Class of 92, one of the elite youngsters who when combined with more seasoned professionals would sweep all before them during a period of domestic dominance which culminated in the Holy Grail of the Champions League trophy in 1999. During that famous night Beckham was the key ingredient which first salvaged and then secured a trophy which had been on the brink of escaping, the final piece in the magical Unprecedented Treble. Firstly a whipped delivery into the middle of the crowded box for his initial corner where Schmeichel’s green jersey lurked and could cause the most havoc, from which the result was a prodded Sheringham finish. Secondly, a near post corner which found Sheringham to flick toward goal which Solskjaer rammed home to spark raucous celebration. Had we the current crop of United players, these corners would more than likely have been wasted, the delivery either overshot or failing to evade the first man. Beckham’s potency gave an edge that almost seemed like cheating, in a time where we were festooned with strikers who would score all types of goals if given such a cavalcade of ammunition to utilise. This is summed up aptly here by goalkeeping legend Peter Schmeichel:

“You only have to go on MUTV and watch programmes like ‘Ruud van Nistelrooy: all the goals’, ‘Andy Cole: All the goals’ and so on, and see how many goals they scored came from his crosses. A cross from him is as good as a goal. His crossing was unbelievable. ”

Beckham’s early life was typical of that of a precocious boy who dreamed of playing football, whose soul ambition was to secure a playing role in the beautiful game. When asked the arch old question of what career he wished to pursue, Beckham remained obstinate beyond castigation that he would indeed fulfil this dream. Fortuitously for him, as all United fans know, he had the talent in abundance in order to make this dream a reality and was signed up for United after impressing particularly as a youth who had come to prominence whilst attending one of Sir Bobby Charlton’s football schools. As Neville remarked during his own recollection of Beckham’s arrival into the group of fledgling prodigies that were to become later known as the Class of 92, there was a real sense that Beckham’s presence acted as catalyst for the others who were envious of the sheer natural football talent that he (Beckham) had at his disposal even at such a young age.

He was the final member of the greatest midfield quartet to grace the Premier League, providing the width and demanding the pressure of the Number 7 shirt. In Keane’s autobiography, Keane recounts that Sir Alex wanted to give Keane the shirt but that the Irishman thought that Beckham better befitted that jersey. It proved to be an inspirational choice, particularly as Beckham was charged with filling the shoes of the King, Eric Cantona. On the first day of the 96-97 season Beckham scored a goal from the halfway line against Wimbledon, it was a goal which propelled the youngster straight into the nation’s consciousness. It was the season where Beckham cemented his place as a first choice starter for United and was voted to be PFA Young Player of the Year by his peers. Though the following season was disappointing, it was during the Treble season that Beckham came alive; this flying in the face of the widespread condemnation Beckham had received for the infamous petulant kick which many felt was the direct contributing factor to England’s early exit in the previous summer’s World Cup. It was here that Beckham demonstrated his endeavour and bravery by succeeding when many prayed for his failure. He finished the season, as arguably United’s most valuable asset, an assertion given credence by him finishing runner up to Rivaldo in both the European and World Player of the Year award.

As Ryan Giggs pointed out, the remainder of the United squad knew Beckham’s value to the team and the squad pouring the following praise upon his team mate:

“The best crosser of the ball I have ever seen. You would make a run and he would put the ball into your path without having to break stride. A brilliant footballer.”

His fine form was carried into the next season as United won the Premier League by a handsome 18 points in the 99-2000 season. In particular though it was Beckham’s extracurricular activities which were giving Sir Alex the biggest headache, the fact that in 2000 he was given permission to miss out on training in order to take care of his son, Brooklyn who had gastroenteritis. However, Victoria was then spotted at the London Fashion Week Night that day which meant that she could have looked after the sick child. As Ferguson was quick to admonish:

“He was never a problem until he got married. He used to go into work with the academy coaches at night time; he was a fantastic young lad. Getting married into that entertainment scene was a difficult thing – from that moment, his life was never going to be the same. He is such a big celebrity; football is only a small part.”

United though were still in a period of great dominance and this was reflected when they secured their third successive league title in 2000-1. He scored nine goals that season, all of which came in the Premier League. In the following season Beckham scored 16 goals in 42 games in all competitions which was the best of his career, it demonstrated a player whose capabilities were at an all time high in terms of end product. However, Beckham lost his place the next year, following an early season injury, to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and struggled to get back into the team. In February 2003 following an FA Cup defeat to Arsenal Beckham was infamously then the victim of Sir Alex Ferguson’s ire receiving a football boot to the head which really sparked the beginning of the end for the winger. All in all, Beckham made 265 league appearances for Manchester United and scored 61 goals. He also made 81 Champions League appearances and scored 15 goals. His medal total was quite remarkable accruing 6 Premier League Titles, 2 FA Cups, 1 UCL, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 1 Youth Cup in a 12 year period with the club.

When Beckham left he moved to Real Madrid, his dream of continuing to play for United was in tatters. As he has said before, he couldn’t bear to watch United for two years following the swap. He had a heartfelt connection to his boyhood club and ultimately didn’t want to leave, though he then enjoyed the remainder of his career sequentially with Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris St Germain which amounted to quite an illustrious spell of globetrotting. There are those including Sir Alex who felt that Beckham could have made more of himself had he really applied his full talent to his craft rather than what some might refer to as his brand and the celebrity where he really excelled, becoming a global phenomenon in how he marketed himself. However, it is hard to forget how much Beckham had worked to get to where he was and also that he was a quite incredible footballer first and foremost. He had a natural engine which few could match, often covering great distances and was very much an athlete which gave him the extra longevity that only the footballers who take the greatest care of themselves can hope to achieve. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, himself an undisputed legend of the game was quick to praise Beckham’s personality and ethics with regard to how he handled himself even at a mature age, when he went to play for Paris St Germain:

“As a footballer it is important to be yourself and live your life – not to live in a bubble, not enjoying your life. That is what I admire about Beckham. The attention that follows him is not easy to live out your life. But he does it. I even told him that I admired him because he brings his children to surfing, to the park. I felt sometimes I would stay at home, because I want to be left alone. But after I saw him, he brought me off the couch and he motivated me to take my family out and do these things. If he can do it, then me, someone with 10% of his attention, can do it.”

For me David Beckham is a United legend, a man who won many trophies with us and contributed sublimely at many key times. He will forever belong to the greatest exclusive club in football, those who have worn the hallowed United Number 7 shirt and his football prowess justifies that he is within that pantheon, a player who played with grit, style, determination and panache in equal measure. Without Beckham’s efforts United fans would not have so many enduring memories with which to comfort our souls during this barren period of true domestic success. Beckham will remain interwoven in the rich tapestry of United’s history, the member of the Class of 92 with abilities so unique and special; they even made a movie about one of them. Indeed, nobody could bend it like Beckham and precious few in United’s history have been as good as he was, a legendary player, never forgotten.

Mourinho out? Here we go again…

Immediately following last night’s defeat to Sevilla I turned my phone off. Not because I was a sore loser. Not because I was sulking. I knew we got what we deserved. The two legs were terrible, devoid of anything resembling the so-called United way. No, I turned my phone off because I knew I would be tempted to go on Twitter, see the usual ‘Mourinho out’ brigade and end up in an argument I didn’t want to be in.

Even after watching that performance last night, the thought of Mourinho leaving Old Trafford is one that wasn’t even close to entering my mind. To jump on that bandwagon would see me as a hypocrite, as a man who has constantly backed our manager. Unless things drastically change, you will not see me calling for Mourinho’s head. Why? Because I’m a realist.

My thoughts on those calling for his head are simple. Are their memories so short-sighted that they do not remember the dross that was served up under David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal? Do they not remember that LVG famously stated how he had guided us back into the Champions League after Moyes’ failure, only to see us crash out of the competition at the group stage? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Mourinho inherited the worst Manchester United squad of recent times.

Fixing this squad was never going to be a quick fix. Before anyone jumps on the hundreds of millions that have been spent, it was always going to take more. In a market where strikers now cost £150 million and defenders cost £75 million, the amount of money spent is almost irrelevant. £80 million for a player these days is what £30 million would have bought you less than five years ago.

The Manchester City comparison is always going to be at the forefront, particularly because of the dominant nature in which they will storm to the Premier League title this season. Guardiola has also spent an astronomical amount of money but it is true that he inherited a better squad than what Mourinho did at United. However, what scrutinises Mourinho’s position further is that, whether we care to admit it or not, Guardiola has City playing in the way in which us fans want to see our club play.

 

 

Whichever way Mourinho is criticised, there is no getting away from the fact that United under him have improved. Sixth last season, five points clear in second this. Try and disguise it all you want, but progress is progress. The former Chelsea manager stated he wanted to win the Premier League within three seasons. That target is still more than achievable, and his record at other clubs, for me, confirms that he is still the best man in the job to do this.

Some are saying that his comments after the defeat last night were unacceptable. Listen to them back now that the adrenaline has subsided. Was it that bad? What he said was factual. United are used to crashing out of the Champions League. Fergie ‘only’ won it twice. The great man himself will be the first to admit that he should have won it many more times. Mourinho did knock us out twice, and losing to that Porto side was unacceptable, whether they went on to win the competition or not.

Last night was horrific, but it was under Fergie at times. Many will point to those classic nights in Barcelona and Moscow but who remembers going out at the Group Stage in a group that contained Benfica, FC Basel and Otelul Galati in 2011. Did we call for his head then? Of course we didn’t.

Guardiola represented our chance to grab a manager who would play in the way the fans want to see. We didn’t take it, opting instead for blind faith in LVG. Mourinho was the next best option, still perhaps the best option given his track record in the Premier League with Chelsea.

Ashley Young watches on as Sevilla take the lead (pic: gettyimages)

My response to the Mourinho out comments every time I see them is always the same. If not Mourinho, who?

Usually this argument lands at the feet of either Mauricio Pochettino or Carlo Ancelotti. Ancelotti I can kind of understand. Premier League winning experience, various trophy-laden seasons across the continent, including three unrivalled Champions League wins, and currently out of work. However, would it be anymore of an upgrade to a manager that also has Premier League winning experience and multiple trophies across Europe.

The Pochettino argument I really struggle with. Yes, he is a manager which plays an exciting brand of football, but at what cost? Mourinho is being rightly chastised for his team selection against Sevilla and how wrong he got it tactically. Rewind one week when the exact same scenario panned out at Wembley. Tottenham 3-2 up on aggregate three quarters of the way through a two-legged tie against Juventus. Instead of shutting shop, the Argentine manager pressed for a fourth, instead conceded two and lost the tie.

Mourinho gets it wrong and crashes out of Europe…sack him. Pochettino does the same…hire him. Get your heads around that one. And, remember, Pochittino famously guided Spurs to a third place Premier League position when they were in a two horse race for the title.

My suggestion for the Mourinho out brigade, be very careful what you wish for. Slowly but surely, he is starting to rebuild our club. It isn’t pretty, but rebuilding it he is. 65 points last season at this stage would have had us in a title race, and then who would be complaining?

They just don’t cut it

While Man City continues to impress and dominate every week in the Premier League questions are beginning to be asked of Jose Mourinho and his players; are they good enough to challenge next season? As Man City are set to strengthen to their already world class squad, who are the weak links in the Manchester United squad that the club cannot afford to have next season?

Two of those whom don’t meet the requirements to play for this club are:

Marouane Fellaini

Transfer fee: £27,500,000

Appearances: 94

Goals: 19

Marouane Fellaini has been a controversial signing ever since he walked through the doors of Carrington alongside ‘The Chosen One’ David Moyes.

The Belgium International has been used as a somewhat go to player under José Mourinho’s tenure so far with direct plays and long balls being used as a way back into the game. However, the 6’4 midfielder never has had the skill or the ability to play for a club of Manchester United’s stature.

He was a panic buy from the Scotsman who missed out on targets such as Cesc Fabregas and by doing so over spent for a mid-table wreckless midfielder. Fellaini will always be a liability to the defence with his wreckless challenges and flailing arms. With rumours a new contract is trying to be negotiated for him the Belgian is playing hardball and is demanding a higher salary than what has been offered.

(Picture: dailystar.com)

My Verdict: He never has and never will be good enough to play for Manchester United and therefore should be let go in the summer. If Mourinho needs a tall bushy haired midfielder; we have an exciting 6ft tall teenager, Tahith Chong who every fan would rather see step onto the Old Trafford turf alongside the first team.

 

Ashley Young

Transfer fee: £17,000,000

Appearances: 140

Goals: 16

Ashley Young, bought in his prime in 2011 from Aston Villa by Sir Alex Ferguson he was used sparingly as an in and out left winger. Of late the experienced ex England International has been playing in deeper wing back roles and on either flank.

The transition from right midfield to right back for United skipper Antonio Valencia has been a revelation with the Ecuadorian finding his feet and putting in mammoth performances every week for the past few years, becoming an integral rock in the united defence. However, the transition for Ashley Young has not been quite as smooth. With a few months of fine performances almost solidifying his left back position under Louis Van Gaal delivering fine crosses into the box on either foot making the defence guess was a joy to watch for the small period that he produced it.

But with poor performances being turned out each week the fans are left questioning why Mourinho keeps starting the aging Englishman over the young and exciting Luke Shaw who has bags of potential but is just not been shown the same faith from the manager as is from the fan base.

My Verdict: Ashley Young is now too old and doesn’t have the nohow to play in the left back role. His defensive positioning is terrible and recovery is not good enough. His recent performances remind me of an even worse aging Patrice Evra who just didn’t have the legs to get back anymore. The difference is the fans still love Patrice whereas i don’t fully think Ashley has ever won over the fans at Old Trafford in his seven year stint. He needs to leave and allow Luke Shaw and others such as Joe Riley a chance and let the club grow and get stronger especially in the defensive areas.(Picture: express.co.uk)

Preview: Crystal Palace vs Manchester United

With Manchester United visiting, Roy Hodgson’s Palace have got to impress as their run of six games without a win may set to continue with the home side failing to win any of their 17 Premier League meetings with Manchester United (D3, L14) which is a Premier League record for most games against an opponent without winning.

The Eagles will want to put on a good show in front of their home fans after a demoralising late 0-1 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspurs last time out. They will need goals from somewhere as Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke’s six league goals between them will not spark their home crowd with confidence going against the leagues most resilient defence.

United Injury News:

United are missing six first team regulars for Monday night’s fixture.

Ander Herrera will miss out due to his recent muscle injury , while Daley Blind remains in rehab from an ankle problem which has kept him out of the side for sometime; possibly to the happiness of some fans.

Centre back pairing of Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones are also ruled out with knocks, with

(Picture: dailymail.com)
             Fellaini remains sidelined.

Jose confirming that they have not been considered for selection.

Regarding Fellaini, Mourinho explained on Friday: “He’s still a young player, his injury had a little surgery, a minor surgery, and he will be back to play again in a couple of weeks.” Which will give the squad a greater depth in midfield alongside Ander’s return as the United midfield three could begin to strain with the accumulation of matches.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has recently returned back to first team training but will be unlikely to be involved in the fixture despite being confirmed that the Swede is not currently ‘injured’. The experienced striker has reportedly stated that he doesn’t believe he will be of value in his current physical state and will continue to train hard and be back soon.

With Chelsea dropping points and falling to 5th place United could stretch the gap to 9 points with a win tonight and will give them great momentum going into the derby weekend game against on-form Liverpool.

Predicted lineups:

Crystal Palace starting XI:

Hennessey, Wan-Bissaka, Kelly, Delaney, Van Aanholt, McArthur, Milivojevic, Riedewald, Townsend, Benteke, Sorloth

Zaha still out injured and Timothy-Fosu Mensah not allowed to play against parent club.

Man United starting XI:

De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Mctominay, Matic, Pogba, Rashford, Sanchez, Lukaku

Mourinho may be tempted to play Eric Bailly to regain fitness ahead of the Liverpool game on Saturday. Also the right midfield spot could be anyone’s with Martial out, Rashford could be tipped by Jesse Lingard or Juan Mata. 

Jose Hits 100 Games – How Has He Compared to His Predecessors?

Jose Mourinho has now managed Man Utd for his 100th game against Yeovil on Friday, but how has he compared to his most recent predecessors at the club?

It’s not hard to see that progression has been made at the club under Mourinho, but we’re going to look at how he compared to Moyes’ time in charge and LvG’s first 100 games, despite him managing the club for a total of 103 matches.

Firstly the win, draw and loss percentage of their respective 100 games in charge (54 for Moyes): How do they compare and have we really progressed?
Personal Word Document

Mourinho has taken us from an average of 52% win record from the three season’s preceding his arrival to an average of 62% since he’s been at the club. The loss rate has also been reduced significantly since Mourinho to only 15%, compared to 29.63% and 22% from Moyes and LvG respectively. Mourinho has literally turned those ‘L’s into ‘W’s.

Next we’ll look at the goals scored and goals conceded during the respective managers in charge and see if there are any trends. This one is done from season to season using the same data. Let’s take a look.
Personal Word Document

Under Moyes we had a respectable 1.7 goals per game, but the goals conceded was relatively high per game at 1.06. The goals conceded under LvG’s watch came steadily down to as low as 0.92 per game in his final season, however the team’s goal scoring rate also came down sharply 1.47 goals a game which is between Leicester’s and Watford’s goal scoring rate this season.

Jose has further improved the defence with the goals conceded rate coming down even further to as little as 0.67 goals per game this season but hasn’t compromised the attack in order to sure up the defence. In terms of goals scored we’ve seen a massive upwards turn especially this season where we’ve score 2.08 goals per game. That’s more than half a goal a game more than LvG’s last season in charge of the Red Devils.

To sum up, we’re seeing a higher win percentage, lower loss percentage under Mourinho: Fewer goals conceded and a sharp increase of goals scored per game.

So what? What’s the point in all this? Well the simple answer is silverware. Well let’s see what they’ve won so far:
Personal Word Document

We’re making progress under Mourinho; that is clear to see in spite of the media’s spin. With players like Sanchez coming into the club and players like Bailly to come back into the squad we can hope at the very lease maintain the current rate of progression. Who knows, we might even be able to add to last season’s silverware successes.

Looking forward to Jose’s next 100 games in charge as this is just the start! Glory days will be back at Old Trafford soon!

Sanchez to wait for Debut!

The Chilean winger, Alexis Sanchez, will now have to wait until next Friday to make his debut for Manchester United as his deal continues to be stalled.

The deal has failed to be completed in time to meet the Premier League’s registration deadline if they were wanting him to make his first appearance in what is rumoured to be the number seven jersey in the famous united colours. As well as Sanchez, Henrikh Mkhitaryan will too be unavailable for Arsenal’s 3pm kick-off against Crystal Palace even if the announcement were to come later this day due to the cut off time of midday earlier today.

United fans especially will see this as a massive blow as they were wanting to see their new man make his debut against a tough opposition in Burnley, in a game that he would have made an immediate impact and improved the squad a great deal. Burnley, despite not winning a game in their last seven fixtures are still sitting seventh and pose a real threat against the United defence.

As both showed up for training for their current respective sides this morning, there is a feeling that the spark of this transfer is beginning to dwindle with many fans losing patience and excitement about the announcement. Manchester United fans will be hopeful that their club can announce this deal quickly and in an impressive fashion such as Pogba and Ibrahimović deals alike.

Di Marzio – ‘It’s Now a Matter of Hours’

Fresh reports from the man in the know: Gianluca Di Marzio has reported in the last few minutes that the Sanchez-Mkhitaryan swap is only hours away from being complete.

Manchester United lawyers are now finalising the last few details of Sanchez’s contract which will see him join United on a four and a half year deal valued at £100mil which works out at around £425,000 a week.

Mkhitaryan is still at Carrington; however his agent, Mino Raiola is in London finalising the deal for his player which would see this deal come to a close. The only thing left to do after this would be the respective medicals, officially sign the contracts and register the players before noon tomorrow in order to be eligible to make their debuts this weekend.

It’s in both the clubs interest to get the deal over the line quickly as they would like to have a strengthened team for both Arsenal and Man Utd to play Crystal Palace and Burnley respectively.

Di Marzio reports – ‘It’s now a matter of hours!’

Mkhitaryan Dropped as Speculation Grows

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been dropped from the squad in the match against Stoke this evening as speculation grows about his future at the club.

The 28 year old Armenian, 29 this month (Only a month younger than Sanchez), has been all over the media the last week reference a potential swap deal regarding Alexis Sanchez with Mkhitaryan going the other way to Arsenal.

The out of form attacking midfielder is said to be being protected because of the speculation regarding his future, despite Jose saying he will likely start in his pre-match press conference.

However, in the pre-match interview Jose said:

‘I would lie if I said it was a pure tactical decision.’ – On Mkhitaryan being left out.

For most fans, this translate to: he’s being protected against injury before a potential move.

There’s been a lot of speculation today suggesting that Mkhitaryan has done a U-turn in a possible move to Arsenal, which is understandable. However, if it stops Sanchez going the other way he’ll be the least popular person in the red half of Manchester.

Could the exclusion of both Sanchez and Mkhitaryan spell the end of them playing for their current clubs? United fans hope so; Arsenal fans won’t be happy but under the circumstances would rather Mkhitaryan than no one.

IF this transfer does go through, will it affect Man Utd going for the transfer targets in the Summer? It’d be a nice problem to have. Would you rather Ozil now, or Griezmann in the Summer?