Tag Archives: Premier League

Mourinho the Mastermind

As the season begins once more this weekend of the Premier League, inevitably all United fans feel the buzz and anticipation given that there is a genuine possibility of winning the league. A major reason for these feelings and the fulfillment of our fervent wishes to this effect is the man at the helm of our ship. Mourinho boasts the enviable track record of winning the domestic league within the first two years of managing a team wherever he goes.  He is a serial winner who seems to thrive upon pressure, making him the perfect manager to cope with the stresses and strains of being vilified and lambasted by rival fans and journalists alike. Indeed, he thrives upon creating a siege mentality and pitting his wits against others with the ruthless winning mentality that separates the truly exceptional managers from the great ones.  Every United fan is praying that this year will not mark the exception to the rule where Mourinho is concerned and that come May time, we will be celebrating a Premier League title and a reprieve from the barren title spell since Sir Alex Ferguson left. After all I am sure that no United fan wants to become the running joke that Arsenal and especially Liverpool are, still praying for the title after over a decade or two since their last. It is imperative that we buck the trend before the cycle of failure is borne and we begin to succumb to the hideous chronic disease that Arsenal possesses, the Choking Syndrome of February and March.

Mourinho has already proven that he can make us resilient, and despite the humdrum nature of the six month unbeaten spell we strung together in mid season last year, it has built up a confidence and resoluteness within the squad. With the addition of Romelu Lukaku, if we can turn some of those stalemates into wins, then a title tilt is not so farfetched. Although most United fans would prefer us to play the glorious attacking football that Sir Alex advocated to win the title, they would also forget the many days where United ground out results on the way to the titles we won. Those games where our rivals would falter or fail, somehow we would grab the odd goal or score in the dying seconds to force a victory. The football was not always pure artistry but the silverware we attained was as much a result of pure grit, determination and doggedness as it was the skill and flair which we exhibited. Mourinho knows, as even his most ardent detractors would begrudgingly admit, how to win ugly and has shown through the trophies he acquires that often there is a very shrewd method in the madness.  When teams come to United and deploy defensive smothering tactics, it will be up to United and Jose to have learnt how to overcome these negative ploys, and demonstrate how to break down and dispatch them summarily. Learning from last season’s profligacy against the weaker teams will surely be an acid test as to how far we have come and our chances of becoming genuine title contenders.

Amongst the other major tests which Mourinho and United will have to negotiate this season, is our performance against our rivals, particularly away from home.  Mourinho had been accused of setting his stall out to defend and hit our opponents on the break but the lack of points and goals garnered showed that even the best laid plans of Mice and Men gang often go awry. Mourinho didn’t really have the personnel last season that he had at other clubs where this style had been more favourable.  After all asking Smalling and Jones to perform a forward pass of any great length or accuracy is a rather dicey proposition to say the least, given their questionable ball skills. Lindelof’s passing range will certainly prove beneficial whilst Matic is deceptively quick and also has a far superior passing radius that his predecessor Marouane Fellaini in central defensive midfield.  Also, Romelu Lukaku’s pace will prevent our rivals from camping in our half, since his pace and power will provide a threat opposing players will have to take proactive countermeasures to detain. Hopefully, with this quicker movement from back to front, with and without the ball, the counterattacking style will be far more productive than it was last year. Of course, defeating our rivals will not be the be all and end all of winning the title, but it will be important not only in taking points from them and adding to our tally mathematically but also psychologically compounding and confirming our serious title aspirations.  After all winning these big matches puts down a marker and crushes the spirit of the opposition, whilst reaffirming belief and desire to attain the Premier League trophy.

We know that Mourinho has the mindset to win any individual game, indeed one might argue that he is the greatest single match manager in the world; such is his meticulous care and attention to detail in understanding and studying the opposition and conceiving tactical masterstrokes.  In particular, last season’s two nil victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford in the Premier League illustrates this point perfectly.  Even the most optimistic fan would have felt a niggle of doubt when the champions elect strolled into town, especially given the way in which they had hammered us four nil at the Bridge in the autumn.  However, aided by the fact that Mourinho didn’t have Smalling to be at fault for all the goals this time around, he produced the sort of managerial lesson that even had the Portuguese grinning from ear to ear at its sheer perfection.  Chelsea did not have a single shot as United dominated the ball and the match, with Ander Herrera turning in a flawless performance managing a superb assist and goal whilst still managing to keep Eden Hazard firmly in his back pocket for the entire match, as one wag amusingly pointed out he made Hazard look like a BTEC Jesse Lingard.  Mourinho showed that he learns from his mistakes, he knew that he had to contain the Blues’ most dangerous player and that Phil Jones’ attempts at performing a similar role had proved ineffective in the FA Cup tie. Choosing Herrera who has the temperament and diligence to perform such a selfless task showed excellent judgment of his players and quite rightly Jose milked the universal acclaim and praise he had earned for his tactics. If we are to attain more points in these matches against our direct competitions we shall need Jose to showcase some more tactical nous of this wondrous calibre.

At least this season, Jose will have a slightly more manageable timetable; it is well recognised that the Europa League has been historically shown to have a detrimental effect on a team’s respective fortune in the league during that campaign.  With our return to the Champions League, at least for the autumn of this season, the chasm of points which opened up last term should hopefully not recur.  Often I feel like it was that period of the season where we stymied ourselves through poor results following the group matches typically and the corresponding lethargy which our players showed during the league matches evinces this.  Mourinho, like any mastermind, will look at the Premier League fixtures and work out strategies and ways to micromanage the calendar and where he can pick up points to secure the title.  With the slightly less compressed schedule, he will be able to work on players and ensuring they possess the necessary knowledge and fitness to commit more fully to each individual match. Hopefully, this will see an upturn in our fortunes and ensure we are top of the league at Christmas.  Some readers will wonder why I am making such an arbitrary point, after all why the fixation about Christmas? However, when you realise that in seven of the past eight Premier League seasons the team that tops the league on December 25th goes on to lift the trophy in May, you realise the import of being there at that point or thereabouts.  These are the sort of statistics which many might not be aware of but rest assured that Jose’s mastermind of a brain is fully cognisant of, as well as numerous other facts and figures which escape us mere mortals and laymen.

Lastly, Jose will have to indulge in the mind games for which he is also rightfully revered.  It will be his job to deflect any negativity which the press or the public try to foist upon the players to derail any potential title charge whilst also delivering stunning retorts to dismiss critics. Mourinho’s mastermind will be required to shield and motivate in equal measure, he will have to rely upon his choice of language and when to speak or stay silent.  The latter option is something which Jose has historically struggled with, but he showed signs of developing in this area. With the FA’s no nonsense approach where he is concerned, we shall need him to ensure he doesn’t get involved any misdemeanours which could land him retrospective action of touchline or stadium bans. He will be required to be the standard bearer and exemplify the behaviour and professionalism with which we must approach this season. Too often, some of our more important players picked up silly suspensions which could otherwise have been avoided; Jose will have to demand they carry out their tasks more cleanly and astutely this year.  I feel as though United fans would accept failure if we understand that he and his players have exerted maximum effort and left nothing in reserve by May. However, they will be far less forgiving if some glaring errors are repeated and will be outspoken in their admonishment.  For this reason, Mourinho will have to know when to use both the stick and carrot as motivational tools to ensure that we have the maximum potential of winning the Premier League title.

Conclusively, United will have to rely upon Mourinho to spearhead a title triumph this season. In this day and age, where managers are given precious time to achieve objectives and the Sword of Damocles hangs incessantly over their heads, Jose knows he must continue to succeed or risk being thrown to the wolves. Jose, advantageously, knows this situation more than most having worked for clubs where success is absolutely mandatory and owners will brook no failure, Chelsea and Real Madrid in particular. He will have to show he is the mastermind who can cajole and inspire the team to greater lengths, rotate the squad and team effectively and provide the tactics and suggestions to enable us to beat opponents. Mourinho has now had a couple of summer transfer windows to sign “his” players, whilst trimming some of the deadwood and will need this core of acquisitions to justify his faith in securing and paying so handsomely for their services with commensurate performances of quality. Jose knows that success is the yardstick upon which he will be measured, and that a title triumph is demanded by the institution which Sir Alex Ferguson built up through his tenure. A club of United’s stature demands that we regain our leading place among the English elite, not only in financial terms but in achieving major trophies to attract the best players and orchestrating renewed periods of dominance within the English game and on the Continental stage.  I’m sure that Jose wouldn’t have it any other way, as a serial winner himself; these are the goals and targets he sets himself also. In winning the Europa League and League Cup, last year with some of the injury and packed schedule woes we had to endure, he has proven he can succeed where lesser managers would wilt in the heat.  If he manages to bring the Premier League trophy to United once more this May then the self anointed “Special One” will surely have another epithet to add, that of “Mastermind”.

How close are Manchester United to Premier League glory?

Manchester United enjoyed a successful pre-season over the course of July and the beginning of August. They managed to claim six wins out of seven despite coming up against the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Manchester City. More importantly though, they managed to create good chances and finish them off (including an excellent counter-attack against Sampdoria).

One of the main problems last season was killing teams off. This problem seems to have been sorted though with the arrival of Romelu Lukaku. The extra years experience that Rashford has gained also looks to be paying off as he looked sharp throughout the summer and will hopefully contribute more goals this term. Furthermore, the signing of Nemanja Matic makes players like Pogba and Mkhitaryan more confident knowing that they have defensive cover. This allows them to get further up the pitch.

With one problem solved, what else do Manchester United need to do to lift the league title? Well, while a marquee signing such as Gareth Bale would certainly help them towards success, balance down the left hand side of the pitch is crucial. This is what sparked Mourinho’s interest in Inter’s Ivan Perisic. However, as the transfer window rumbles on, chances of Manchester United getting their key target are fading. Therefore, United may need to look elsewhere for a player capable of filling the left wing-back role. Someone like Alex Sandro, perhaps?

Apart from the need of balance, United look to be heading into the new season feeling fairly confident and looking a lot more dangerous. There is also reason to believe that United are more prepared than their biggest Premier League rivals this term. If we look at Liverpool’s pre-season preparation, then yes, they may have won a trophy, but are they stronger than last season? While they have made the same amount of signings as Manchester United, the signings aren’t quite on the same level. Furthermore, if Coutinho does leave for Barcelona then they will be significantly weaker than last year.

Additionally, Arsenal have signed Lacazette, a striker that previously played in the top French division, Ligue 1. The former Lyon player will also need time to adjust to the demands and physicality of the Premier League. Then, there’s Chelsea, who will need to juggle Champions League and Premier League this term, and there are question marks over whether their squad has the depth to handle both. Tottenham Hotspur are also slightly weaker than last season. This is due to the loss of Kyle Walker to Manchester City and the fact that they haven’t made any signings as of yet. Then, lastly, there’s Manchester city who have spent huge money on trying to fix their defence. Whether this has worked remains to be seen, but all signings will need time to get onto the same level as one another.

So compared to Manchester United’s rivals, they are not as far away from Premier League glory as some may think.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Manchester United can return to Premier League glory this year? Share your opinion in the comments below or with The United Stand on Twitter!

Reasons for United fans to be optimistic this season

Exciting times are ahead for Manchester United. With the Premier League’s most successful club rightfully back into the Champions League, this season could be the beginning of United re-establishing themselves as one of the dominant forces in English and European football. Fans will now look forward to Tuesday nights against the most elite teams in Europe and with the world class talent that the club have available, it seems that United are back where they belong and are ready to return with a bang!

Another place where United belong is at the top of the Premier League. Since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United have struggled to genuinely challenging for the title. This could all change this season though if Jose’s second season statistics are anything to go by. During the manager’s second season at Porto, Inter Milan, Chelsea, and Real Madrid he has won the domestic title each time. This impressive record also includes both times he had his second season at Chelsea. So will Jose Mourinho follow his career pattern and win the Premier League with Manchester United this season? Only time will tell.

Mourinho with Europa League trophy (Picture: dailymail.co.uk)
Jose Mourinho holds the Europa League trophy (Picture: dailymail.co.uk)

A huge boost towards completing United’s jump from the sixth place finish of last year to becoming the champions of England is the signing of Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku. One of the main problems from last season was Man United’s inability to finish off countless scoring opportunities. So, Mourinho’s purchase of a proven Premier League striker that scored 25 league goals last season isn’t a bad way to solve this problem.

Furthermore, with Manchester United strengthening by signing Lindelof, Lukaku and Matic, United look a much more dangerous side already. It is not just the new signings that could help make the difference though. Pogba now looks a lot more comfortable expressing himself in the final third of the pitch due to the defensive cover that Nemanja Matic now brings to the team. The recent world-record transfer of Neymar to PSG could also help Paul Pogba impress more this season as the weight of being the world’s most expensive footballer has now been relieved from his shoulders.

Manchester United look set for great things this season and it is definitely an exciting time to be a United fan. Nothing is for certain in football, but the club are surely heading in the right direction. So lets look forward to another entertaining season at the Theatre of Dreams.

What are you most excited about heading into the new season? Will Lukaku and Pogba shine in the Premier League this season? Share your thoughts with The United Stand!

Zlatan will play again!

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s agent Mino Raiola says the Swedish striker has undergone successful knee surgery and “will make a full recovery”.

The 35-year-old suffered cruciate knee ligament damage in the Europa League victory of Anderlecht. Raiola emphasised that the Sweden international’s injury was not career-threatening. Ibrahimovic’s one year contract at Manchester United is coming to and end and is yet to agree an extension.

He has been a valuable asset to the United team by scoring 28 goals this season and has begun rehabilitation in Pittsburgh, USA.

After his horrific injury, there have been questions about whether the Swede would ever return to play but this news shows that the striker isn’t ready to give up on the beautiful game just yet.

Ibrahimovic celebrates for Man Utd (picture: skysports.com)
Ibrahimovic has been prolific this season for Manchester United (picture: sky sports.com)

He recently said on Instagram, “I will go through this like everythings else and come back even stronger. Giving up is not an option.”

The decision for Manchester United now is whether they should offer Zlatan a new one year contract or allow him to become a free agent in the summer. The forward has shown that he can still score goals and is also a crucial part in the development of youngster Marcus Rashford.

I think we should sign one striker in the summer and give Rashford the starting position up front. In recent weeks he has shown that he can cause problems to defenders in the Premier League as well as in Europe. With quality service I believe Rashford can become a prolific goalscorer for Manchester United.

Do you think we should keep Ibrahimovic?

If no, then who should we replace him with?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.

“Shaw’s future depends on proving Jose wrong” – United legend

Luke Shaw has been warned by United legend Gary Neville that his reputation will be severely damaged if he doesn’t respond to José Mourinho’s criticism of his commitment to Manchester United.

Shaw wasn’t in the squad during Saturday’s frustrating goalless draw with West Brom. The left-back’s future looks uncertain after Mourinho said he cannot compare his attitude with those of United’s other left-backs, Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and Ashley Young. The Portuguese said Shaw was a “long way behind” in terms of commitment, focus and ambition.

The manager’s criticism has raised the prospect of the England defender leaving United this summer, with Spurs reportedly monitoring the situation. However, Neville, who worked with Shaw on the National team, has urged the 21-year-old to prove his manager wrong.

“The reality of it is Luke Shaw will be given a chance to play in a few weeks time and it’s his performance on the pitch that will count. He has the talent to play for Manchester United,” said Sky Sports pundit Neville.

“Players have got to be able to handle it. He’s playing for Man United and he’s got to fill that shirt and have broad shoulders. It’s worked with Mkhitaryan and Martial, they’ve responded, and Luke Shaw needs to respond in the same way.”

One thing for sure is that before Shaw suffered the horrendous leg break last season, he was an asset to the side. However, it seems that the injury has pushed him two steps backwards in terms of confidence and quality, which is why he needs to work hard to regain his form.

At just 21 years of age, Shaw has plenty of time to become a regular in the left-back spot at Manchester United and I strongly feel he could hold down that position for several years.

The worst thing for us to do at this point is sell Luke Shaw. Selling him would mean splashing the cash on yet another unproven young left-back, which is totally unnecessary seeing as we have one already. Shaw proved that he can live up to his potential in his first season at United and I am certain that he can regain confidence and become one of the best left-backs in the Premier League.

Is Neville right?

Should United sell Luke Shaw?

Was Jose correct to publicly criticise the young fullback?

Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

Pogba strikes late as United march on!

The world’s most expensive player Paul Pogba scored the winner as Manchester United completed a stunning comeback to give them their fifth consecutive victory and preserve their unbeaten run since October.

Middlesbrough took the surprise lead in the 67th minute through Grant Leadbitter whose right footed strike left Old Trafford stunned.

United struck back in the 85th minute through Frenchman Anthony Martial which lifted the spirits of the crowd as the Red Devils went in search for another goal.

The winner came 86 seconds later through the head of Pogba, who powerfully planted his header into the top corner to score his sixth goal of the season to send Old Trafford wild.

The manner of the victory came on the perfect day for United – the birthday of ex-manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who during his hugely successful time as manager mastered the art of the comeback.

United dominated the entire game and were extremely unlucky to not score earlier having had 32 attempts on goal. Pogba and Martial struck the woodwork and Zlatan Ibrahimovic having a goal harshly disallowed for a high boot in the first half.

Ex United Goalkeeper Victor Valdez was also in good form, saving smartly from Ibrahimovic from close range. It looked like one of them days where the ball would not go in the net for United, whose performance was worthy of the victory.

The win takes United one point away from the top four, extending their unbeaten run in the Premier League to ten games as they intensify their push for a champions league position.

For us United fans the game was hugely frustrating and it seemed like the Burnley match all over again as chance after chance came and went. But United dug deep and ground out the victory, which shows the progression the side has made in the past few months.

A few months ago, as seen against Burnley, we couldn’t make the breakthrough, but today we showed our fighting spirit and signs that the United of old was being revived through a pulsating comeback in the final five minutes.

Jose Mourinho also proved his worth through the introduction of teenager Marcus Ashford, who immediately changed the game and gave United more threat in attack. The win was a huge relief for United, who continue their fine run of form.

What were your thoughts on the game?

Tell us through a comment below!

Angel Di Maria and Louis Van Gaal Exchange Verbal Blows

Last week, Angel Di Maria opened up on his time with Manchester United, and it didn’t make for pretty watching for Louis Van Gaal. Speaking to the BBC, Di Maria claimed that his ill-fated spell at Manchester United came to an end for an array of reasons.

“I started a game in a position, and then the next one I would be in another.”

“I scored goals playing in one position, and then suddenly the next game I was picked to play in a different position.”

“It’s more that they didn’t let me settle properly than I couldn’t settle. I left a team that was out of the European competition and far away from being champions of the Premier League. I don’t think it was my fault or the fault of my teammates.”

The Argentine then added that he left the club “not only to be happy, but to win things.”

In his weekly press conference, Louis Van Gaal retaliated in a manner similar to that when he verbally attacked Paul Scholes for criticising him and his team.

“I have never seen players who look at themselves, who look to the way they have performed here, and that is always the fault of the manager.”

“So he is one of the players who are in the row of players who have no self-criticism. Unfortunately, it is also my life as a manager. It is always like that.”

The aftermath on social media was pretty critical towards Di Maria. I, however, decided to mull his comments over. Was he, after all, so wrong in what he said? He was played out of position. During his time at Manchester United, he operated as a winger, an attacking midfielder, a number 10, a playmaker and a striker.

His form at United was erratic, of that there can be no mistake. His first couple of months were electric, as he was played in his favoured position, and he thrived. He will remembered for his breathtaking goal against Leicester City, probably more so than the fact Leicester actually won the game 5-3. As the season progressed, injuries and break-ins caused his form to suffer, but he was continually played out of position, Van Gaal using his hefty price tag as an excuse that he has to deliver wherever he plays.

And that is nonsense. Let’s use Rio Ferdinand as an example here. He cost £30 million when he joined United from Leeds in 2002, but would he have realistically have been expected to perform in a position that he was not familiar with? Of course not.

Then there is the Argentine’s comments about moving to France to win trophies. This was a comment that angered many a Manchester United fan. As for me, I totally got what he was saying. If this season has shown us anything, it is that the club are miles away from winning the Premier League. When Manchester United are struggling to make top four, not least challenging for the title, in a league where Leicester City are the frontrunners followed by Tottenham Hotspur, serious questions need to be asked.

“Winning trophies in France doesn’t count” was one Tweet I saw. Again, nonsense. Why doesn’t it? Because it’s France? Because Paris Saint Germain are the only team capable of winning Ligue 1? Let me ask you this, does that same rule apply to Germany? Bayern Munich will this season win their fourth successive Bundesliga title. Same as PSG this year. Are French teams competitive in Europe? As a whole, no. Perhaps they are in Germany, but the domestic competition is almost a non-event, just like in France.

Had he, for example, headed to Greece and joined Olympiakos I could understand the criticism. At Olympiakos he would win endless trophies. Afterall, they have won 17 of the last 19 Greek Super Leagues. However, they are miles away from competing outside of Greece. PSG, in comparison, as a complete squad, ooze class. They have knocked Chelsea, England’s current champions, out of the Champions League in each of the past two seasons. It is completely possible that they will continue that run in the upcoming quarter-final tie against Manchester City. This is a team that contains genuine world class players. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Thiago Silva, Lucas Moura, Marco Verratti. The list is almost endless. By comparison, he left a Manchester United side that Marouane Fellaini is almost the first name on the team sheet.

And Di Maria has thrived since. His form at PSG has been what United fans only saw glimpses of. 14 goals and 13 assists. He was a world class player when he joined Old Trafford, and he is a world class player now in Paris.

Angel Di Maria didn’t fail Manchester United. Manchester United failed him. Louis Van Gaal has been quick to try to shift the blame back to the player but it once again exposes his frailties. He took a player who was Man of the Match in the Champions League final as Real Madrid recorded their tenth European title, and turned him into a player who struggled against Yeovil.

It used to be said that no player could recover from leaving Manchester United, that their career was only downhill from there. Di Maria has proved the contrary, and, for me, that is down to Louis Van Gaal and his ego.

Michael Carrick Set For New Deal?

Fresh off the back of Sunday’s 1-0 victory over bitter rivals Manchester City, long-serving midfielder Michael Carrick has revealed that he is confident that negotiations over a new contract will begin shortly.

After the win, the 34-year-old was quoted as saying “I am not sure yet to be honest. I haven’t heard anything just at the moment, no. Hopefully some time soon. I have been here a long time, I have had some great times here and I love the club. It’s a great place to play. Playing games like against City keeps you having that buzz and enthusiasm to play for longer.

“I am not making a big deal of it, to be honest. I will just have to wait and see what happens. I am quite relaxed about it.”

If Carrick was to sign a new contract, it would coincide with a tenth year at the club having signed from Tottenham Hotspur in July 2006 by Sir Alex Ferguson for a reported £14 million. The England international has been pivotal in the club’s success ever since, the highlight being a starting berth in the Champions League victory in 2008 over Chelsea.

Manchester United fans have long admired the attributes that Carrick brings to the squad, having been a stalwart at the heart of the midfield during some of the club’s most successful years. He was a key member of the squad which won three successive Premier League titles between 2007 and 2009 and, with over 400 games for the club to date, sits within the top 25 appearance makers for Manchester United. His 34 caps for England to date show no reflection on his talent and it could easily be argued that Carrick has been vastly underused at international level.

Voted Players Player of the Year in 2013, Carrick has won five Premier League titles, one League Cup, one Champions League, one World Club Cup and five Community Shields in his time in Manchester. Whilst clearly in the twilight years of his career, a one year extension to his current deal would represent a huge positive for the club.

Andreas Pereira Nears Loan Exit

As the 2016 Rio Olympic Games edges near, Andreas Pereira has voiced his desire to seek a loan move away from the club to try and cement a place in the Brazilian national side this summer. Speaking to GloboEsporte, the talented youngster is quoted as saying:

“I do not know if United want to lend me, but I’m working hard to get more opportunities. Manchester will decide.”

The 20-year-old is viewed as the jewel in the crown in the next batch of United youngsters and this revelation, whilst not a shock, will no doubt hand some sections more ammunition against manager Louis Van Gaal despite a decent start to 2016. With Van Gaal providing a platform for many youngsters during his tenure, with the likes of Jesse Lingard, Paddy McNair, Tyler Blackett and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson enjoying time amongst the first team over the past two seasons, Pereira has found his appearances limited despite United struggling in front of goal.

Many fans have called for the 20-year-old to be utilised more often, an opinion reinforced by his stunning free kick against Ipswich Town in the Capital One Cup earlier this season. A string of impressive displays for the under-21 side have only added more fuel to the fire whilst the return of fellow academy graduate Adnan Januzaj, previously on loan at Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund, could well see Pereira fall further behind in the pecking order.

Interestingly enough, news of Pereira’s current availability has sparked rumours from all angles, although Leicester City are rumoured to be the frontrunners which would be absolute madness. Leicester currently sit second in the Premier League on goal difference, and seven points above United. Handing the Foxes one of the club’s most talented prospects would be a major error. Leicester must be seen as United’s main rival for the lucrative fourth Champions League spot.

Leicester are, of course, the surprise package of the season and their expected decline just doesn’t seem to be coming. Their Christmas fixtures were as tough as it gets, games against United, City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, but the club still find themselves on the brink of the Premier League summit. Realistically, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham are shoe-ins for the top four spots. Leicester are the one anomaly, and loaning our most exciting prospect to them to aid their title challenge would be shear lunacy.

However, with some of the decisions that have been made this season, it wouldn’t come as a major surprise…