Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho won't go on spending spree

By Ian Herbert

Manchester United believe that Jose Mourinho is equipped with a competitive squad for the Premier League season and are unlikely to strengthen further in January, despite three defeats in a week - to Manchester City, Feyenoord and Watford - which have put the new manager under early pressure.

The club spent heavily in the summer, including the £89m world record signing of Paul Pogba, to ensure that Mourinho was set for the campaign.

There is no sense that emergency purchases are necessary, despite the weaknesses in defence and central midfield revealed in the 3-1 defeat to the Hornets.

The poverty of the performance and result pile on pressure for tomorrow's EFL Cup tie at League One side Northampton Town.

A decision to wait until next summer to add more reinforcements would reflect the way United have dealt in recent years with the January transfer window, which Sir Alex Ferguson always felt provided poor value.

The only players brought in by United in the past two winters have been Juan Mata (£37.1m) and goalkeeper Victor Valdes on a free transfer, and the club appear to feel that the substantial £145m outlay on Pogba (£89m), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£26m) and Eric Bailly (£30m) is enough, along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic's £200,000-a-week wages.

It is possible that United could trim their roster and sell to fund reinforcements. The large size of the squad was revealed in the Europa League at Feyenoord last week, where Mourinho made eight changes and still fielded what, on paper, was still a strong side.

Mourinho's defensive problems have been exacerbated by a possible groin strain sustained at Watford by full-back Luke Shaw, who underwent a scan on Monday.

Shaw appeared to have been injured shortly before the left side of United's defence was exposed when Watford scored their second goal on Sunday.

The problems United experienced in central midfield stem from Mourinho's struggle to find the right balance, with Wayne Rooney's poor performance at Vicarage Road adding to the sense that the captain is being indulged.

A poll by the Red Issue Sanctuary forum has found that 99.08 per cent of United fans believe Rooney should now be dropped by Mourinho, whose side face champions Leicester City at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.

But the defensive problems appear to relate to the quality of personnel. Neither Daley Blind nor Chris Smalling have provided the strength and leadership United were used to when Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were in charge of the defence.

United were linked to Southampton's Portuguese defender Jose Fonte this summer, though any possible deal is thought to have fallen through because of United's wish to sell before heading back out into the market.

Southampton needed any business to be concluded rapidly to prevent themselves being exposed in the new season.

The 32-year-old was enigmatic when asked recently about a possible move to join Mourinho falling down. "Was I disappointed the Man United move didn't happen? Let's leave that for another time," he said. "Now I'm focused on Southampton."

Belfast Telegraph


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