Last night Valencia sacked Manchester United legend Gary Neville and immediately turned their sights to Jose Mourinho, according to several media reports.
The deal between Manchester United and Jose Mourinho has long been thought of as all-but-complete for some time now but with Valencia keen to act swiftly following Neville’s dismissal, the former Real Madrid manager could be tempted by the immediate availability and guarantees that the Spanish club could offer, despite an alleged pre-contract between United and Mourinho thought to be in place.
“I always say that I need competition and I need competition every week and in Spain, I was at an amazing club but I had four matches a year: Barcelona v Real Madrid, Real Madrid v Barcelona and after that we’d win 4-0, 5-0, 4-1, 6-1.
It was difficult to win because two monsters are together, but it was easy to win matches. Difficult to win the league because you are competing against another team that also win and win and win like you do, so in the end, I was champion in Spain with 100 points and I lost a league in Spain with 91 points.
In England, you can win the leagues with 75 points, maybe less, so I needed competition.”
Mourinho is still odds-on with the bookies to be in charge at Old Trafford come August, although he is now 8/1 to be in charge at Valencia at the beginning of next season.
Reports surfaced today that Jose Mourinho is keen to sign Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli this summer if he is to take over the reigns at Old Trafford. With Chelsea and Arsenal, amongst others, apparently waiting in the wings, Mourinho is reportedly willing to part with up to £74 million of United’s cash to land the Argentine superstar.
Higuain was part of the Mourinho’s La Liga winning Real Madrid side in 2012 and finished the season with 22 goals, the second highest for the club that season behind only Cristiano Ronaldo (who, granted, did score an incredible 46 league goals that season).
Deemed surplus to requirements at the Bernabeu at the end of the 2012/13 season, the 28-year-old moved to Napoli where he has thrived in Serie A. Having hit an incredible 29 goals in 30 appearances to date this season, Higuain sits top of the goalscorers list by an incredible 15 goals, with Carlos Bacca of Milan and Paulo Dybala of Juventus tied in second place with 14 goals.
The Argentine international is widely regarded as a world-class striker, something that United have been lacking this season and Mourinho has made that position his top priority this summer. Signing a player such as Higuain would show a huge signal of intent as United look to catapult themselves back to the summit of English football.
United have reportedly long been admirers of the striker but, with a host of clubs looking to secure his signature this summer, it could force the clubs hand.
28 September 2004: A fresh-faced 18 year old Wayne Rooney marked his debut for Manchester United against Fenerbahce, scoring a stunning hattrick to send Old Trafford rocking. Another star was born, much to the envy of other sides in the Premiership.
Fast forward to 30 March 2016: The Express are reporting Wayne Rooney is seeking a meeting with Jose Mourinho, the man expected to be appointed United manager, to have assurances provided over his place in the first team from next season and beyond.
The problem there is within itself. If Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United and English captain, needs to seek assurances over his spot, then Rooney must know his form is not where it needs to be. Can you imagine Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Robert Lewandowski, requiring guarantees over their position? These men prove themselves every time they play for their club and country; they demand selection.
Why would I compare Rooney to these players? The United captain is one of the highest earners in world football, allegedly earning up to £300,000 a week and from what he has achieved at the club, rightfully so. But if you want to demand big money, you need to display great performances on a consistent basis.
Wayne Rooney is a legend. He has 244 goals, just 5 short of Sir Bobby Charlton’s goal scoring record for United, and has been a major part of United’s 5 Premier League and the 2008 Champions League triumphs and as recently as the turbulent season under Moyes, displayed real leadership in being a constantly good player in what was United’s worst season in over two decades.
The Englishman has also given us many wonderful memories. As previously mentioned, his phenomenal debut, his volley against Newcastle, his toiler-like efforts, The Beckam-like bomb against West ham.. and who will ever forget THAT bicycle against our cross-town neighbours? (Still stings, doesn’t it, City?)
But he is declining. In Season 2011-12, Rooney scored 27 goals and had 10 assists in the Premier league. One season later, with Robin Van Persie joining the Englishman up front, Rooney returned a solid 12 goals and 11 assists.
To Rooney’s own detriment, he is versatile and has had to play deeper at times to the benefit of the team; however, this season, Rooney was finally given the opportunity in his preferred role at centre-forward.
22 appearances later, a disappointing 7 goals and 4 assists. Let’s get something straight, this is not all Rooney’s doing. United’s attack as a whole has been much-maligned this season; but the flip-side of that is United arguably play with more pace and precision with Rashford and Martial in the front 3.
Normally, Rooney would walk back into the team; however, the emergence of youngster Marcus Rashford is coincidentally, doing a Rooney on Rooney. He is making the same noises and getting the United fans something to cheer about in what has been a disappointing season.
For someone of Wayne’s ability, he will occasionally hit a patch of form as we saw in January when Rooney had his best run of form, but these performances have become the exception rather than the norm.
As Sir Alex Ferguson famously announced, when Wayne scores, he scores many; but when he doesn’t score, he goes a fair while without scoring.
United are likely to appoint Jose Mourinho in the summer – and there’s a feeling that, as hard as it is, United need to let go of the ‘Ferguson era’ and establish a new kind of dominance. The shadow of Ferguson will loom while ever the club is unsuccessful, and Rooney is a major part of that. He has been a part of the clubs years of dominance, but the form he had in those days have long passed.
Rooney’s days of running past people are gone; his ability to grab a game by the scruff of the neck have finished.
Selfishly, he will be hesitant to leave; he wants to break Charlton’s record. But given the performances we have produced in his absence, a part of him must know the end is near. As each game passes that his form deserts him, the whispers of his decline will become roars.
Rooney will always be a great and he deserves to be remembered in a good light. Come back from injury, secure the club a top 4 finish, and progress into the sunset.
Mourinho needs to make a big call when he arrives, and that call should result in Wayne leaving to China or the States for one final pay-day.
We love you Wayne, but it’s time to go.
Your Aussie Correspondent,
Larry – The United Stand.
This season has seen many of United’s youngsters given plenty of opportunities and game time as a result of injuries to United’s senior players. But one of United’s hottest prospects, Andreas Pereira, is continuously overlooked by Louis van Gaal.
The young Brazilian was in action for Brazil’s under-23 team yesterday against Bafana Bafana. A game in which he scored with a composed finish. Pereira hopes that he can continue to perform for Brazil and take part in the Olympics.
Despite his lack of minutes at club level under van Gaal, Pereira still believes that United is the place that he can become a great player. In an interview with ManUtd.com he had this to say:
“It’s a dream to play in the Olympics so hopefully I can do that. I am working hard to get there and hope I can. It’s an Under-23 team and obviously I’m 20 now.
“It is very special because Brazil have never won a gold medal in the Olympics for football. It would be nice if we can win it for the first time. Argentina have won it before so we want to catch up with them!
“My ultimate dream is to play for the first team of Brazil and win a World Cup. That’s my biggest dream. I know United can help me a lot with that dream and hopefully we can help out each other.”
You can read the full article on the Daily Mail website by clicking here.
International friendlies –An opportunity to get a dose of patriotism as teams tinker with their squads for the upcoming Euro 2016 tournament– or an opportunity to derail your clubs top four hopes in the case of Manchester United.
As players left their clubs to push their claims for international duty, United duo Daley Blind and Bastian Schweinsteiger have succumbed to injury.
In positive news, Blind’s injury appears to be minor and looks set to play against England on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, Schweinsteiger was not afforded the same luxury, ruled out for the remainder of the 2015/16 season with a knee injury that’s plagued him for the best part of two seasons.
This has caused unrest in the football world, particular among Manchester United fans, who have begun to question whether the signing of Schweinsteiger has been a success or a flop. Let’s assess the German’s season and assess our position on Bastian.
The signing of the German was met with great excitement and praise among the United faithful. It was believed this was the greatest signing since Roy Keane – a box-to-box midfielder who can protect the defence and score wonder goals, freeing Wayne Rooney to be an out-and-out centre forward. In hindsight, this has not happened, with form and injury disallowing Schweinsteiger from any consistent game time to see the full potential of the legend’s offering.
But he was never going to be that Roy Keane. As Schweinsteiger approaches his 32nd Birthday, it is time for both management and player to consider how the German can provide to be most effective to this United side – if he can be effective, period.
Positives: What has been evident is the leadership qualities the German captain provides. We have heard Ryan Giggs’ praise of the German on many occasions, stating that no one has brought into ‘the United way’ quicker. As a man who has achieved so much in football, this quality can be used to help the younger players like Martial, Rashford, Memphis and Andreas Peirera as they continue to learn about dealing with the expectations of playing for a club with a large stature.
In football, we have seen that some players just have an aura about them – the man you see beside you in the dressing room where you look in his eyes and knew that as long as he was by your side, you were winning the game. This is how Schweinsteiger can be Roy Keane-like. Make no mistake about it, Schweinsteiger is a winner and although the cameras portray a happy, exuberant character, he will not be taking United’s current position lightly.
Negatives: For all of Schweinsteiger’s achievements, his performances in the red of Manchester have been underwhelming. In his 26 appearances in the Premier league and Champions league, Schweinsteiger’s return reads 1 goal and 1 assist. Not exactly the stats you expect from a world-class midfielder.
The biggest concern for the German international has to be his troublesome knee. It is approaching 2 years since the 2014 World Cup where Schweinster’s knee has become problematic and continues to plague him. For the United manager, whoever it may be, this has to enter the thought process as to whether he can make an effective contribution to Manchester United.
Consider this: Who has performed well this season? All the creative players in the side are not returning great numbers. In terms of midfielders, Herrera has the greatest return with 29 appearances, totalling 5 goals and 5 assists.
For all the disappointments of Schweinster’s inaugural season in England, it is worth remembering he was signed for a mere £6.5 million; toiletry expenses for a club the stature of Manchester United.
Final decision: He is worth another season. He has too much class, physically and intellectually, to be written off this early into the piece.
The time has come to assess the way the central midfielder is used. In recent times, we have seen Paul Scholes, Xavi and Steven Gerrard drop deeper into a ‘dictator’ role and be effective. A player of Schweinsteiger’s intellect could adopt a similar position, leaving him to control the pace of the game and play balls forward when an opportunity presents itself, while preserving his knee from large amounts of running.
Your Aussie Correspondent,
Larry – The United Stand
Passion, rivalry, aggression – things that used to be the norm rather than the exception in the red vs blue from Manchester, but this clash provided in the former. It can be argued that this was down to 18 year old Mancunian Marcus Rashford, who scored in the winning goal in the 16th minute to keep United’s top 4 hopes within one point from their cross-town neighbors, but this was not the only moment for United’s young light of hope. Rashford was menacing all game, much to the torture of Dimechellis who had a terrible game, allowing Rashford to skip past him for the initial goal and quite blatantly committing a foul in the box that was somehow not called a penalty. To make matters worse for the former Bayern Munich defender, he was arguably responsible for Joe Hart coming off with an unnecessary backward pass that caused Hart to clear his line urgently close attention coming from Anthony Martial.
Usually, we would say such a win should see United kick-on and go on a run that sees them secure a top 4 finish; however, their recent inconsistencies makes one a very brave judge to make such a prediction. We need only to look at the second half where after a counter-attacking and promising first half, United spent the rest of the game in their own end. Being a goal down, Manchester City add a midfielder into the mix as they chase a goal to get back into the game which had United on the back foot; however, United looked comfortable to settle for as much.
City built pressure and had opportunities to get back into the game and had it not been for the poor form that Manchester City themselves are currently having, they may have punished United. United in the past would have gone for the game and secured the 2nd goal to put the result beyond doubt; however, Van Gaal with his questionable substitutions of Valencia, Schweinsteiger and Fosu-Mensah, looked to settle for the narrow win. Nonetheless, the red side of Manchester hung on to survive the on-slaught. So the question beckons, can Manchester United FINALLY mount some momentum to secure a top four finish?
It’s achievable — but the next three weeks are crucial. After the break, United face Everton at Old Trafford followed by Tottenham away with a West Ham replay for the FA Cup in between. These are very hard games and no doubt will test the mental toughness of this Manchester United side
With Manchester City struggling, United hold their own fate. For all of Louis Van Gaal’s struggles, he can save some dignity by securing a top 4 place and possibly an FA Cup before leaving the club. In order for United to do this, LVG needs to get his much maligned player selection spot on.
It is no coincidence that United displayed precision when Maroune Fellaini was left out of the game. This allowed Schneiderlin to protect the defence which freed Carrick to dictate play and look to push the ball forward. For all of Fellaini’s critics, I feel Van Gaal misuses him and opens him for criticism. Fellani’s best performances for Everton were in an attacking mid role behind the striker where he could get amongst defenders and use his frame to create opportunities for others, if not score himself. This is how United should deploy him if need be: late in the 2nd half when we need a physical presence to create a goal. Otherwise, he should be nowhere near this team. Simple.
As Schweinsteiger builds fitness, I think we will see United revert back to Schmidfield (Schneidlerlin and Schweinsteiger) which arguably has been our best combination. If United can maintain the current side as is and have Rooney to return, I think United can definitely achieve top 4. It also helps that United have five of their last eight fixtures at Old Trafford.
For now, let’s enjoy what was a great victory and the emergence of the next Mancunian star. It was a great win but there’s no doubt that top 4 is a must for a club of this stature, of this loyal and patient fan-base. This great club deserves to be great and the fans deserve a great club. Manchester is Red…let’s make the top 4 red as well.
Let’s stay strong, back the boys and stay United!
Your Aussie Correspondent,
Larry – The United Stand.
Juan Mata has said he would welcome the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Manchester United.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker’s contract is due to expire in the summer and the 34-year old has been heavily-linked with a move Old Trafford.
The Spaniard told Sky Sports: “I don’t know what he is going to do, whether he is going to stay there or not, maybe he will try a new chapter in his long career.
Ibrahimovic has won trophies with the likes of Inter Milan, Ajax, AC Milan, PSG and Barcelona but is yet to play for an English club.
“He is probably the best in Sweden’s history for what he represents. He has played in so many countries and leagues and won trophies everywhere. That speaks about his quality as a player and his importance for PSG and in the national team where he is a captain.
“He is a very good player and I like to play with very good players. Every player would be happy to play with him.”