Jose Mourinho’s appointment as the next Manchester United manager in succession to Louis Van Gaal is set to be concluded this week.
The 53-year-old Portuguese will be charged with bringing back the domestic and European successes of the Sir Alex Ferguson era – plus the sort of winning, exciting football “the Theatre Of Dreams” demands after the boredom of the David Moyes and Van Gaal eras.
There is certainly enough around Manchester United to set up a fire sale – so who might Mourinho target? There are plenty of under-achievers that might catch his attention.
Mourinho likes experience but 31-year-old Bastian Schweinsteiger, once undoubtedly world class, is injury-plagued and past his best, while Michael Carrick is 35 in July and out of contract. Mourinho may feel they are surplus to requirements.
Memphis Depay, a flop since his £19m move from PSV Eindhoven, does not fit the Mourinho template and Van Gaal did not even consider him worthy of a place in United’s FA Cup final squad.
And what about the likes of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo? Jones was once considered one of England’s brightest products but has struggled with an ankle injury this season while Ashley Young, Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera will come under close scrutiny.
Juan Mata is one of Manchester United’s most popular figures, with players and fans alike. This will only have increased with his equaliser in the FA Cup final win against Crystal Palace.
The 28-year-old held similar status at Chelsea but it cut no ice with Mourinho when he felt Mata was not mobile or pacy enough around the pitch, and did not contribute enough defensively, for his needs.
Mourinho was happy to sanction his £37.1m sale to United in January 2014 and was vindicated as Chelsea won the Premier League the following season. His arrival does not sound like good news for one of the game’s genuine nice guys.
Mourinho’s appointment will mean Ryan Giggs is once again passed over for a job many – maybe even a few in United’s hierarchy such as Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton – thought would be his.
Giggs played 963 times for United, winning 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two Champions Leagues, but will there be any place for him on Mourinho’s tried and trusted backroom team?
He has been the virtually silent sideman to David Moyes then Van Gaal. Mourinho always works with coaches Rui Faria and Silvino Louro – what influence would Giggs have and would he simply be a symbolic nod to United’s traditionalists?
It may actually be time for Giggs to go elsewhere and prove his managerial credentials for the United job rather than remain as a token appointment.