After spending £150m last summer, Manchester United finished in a disappointing 6th place. The fans weren’t ecstatic but they were left content as Jose Mourinho delivered Champions League football through a Europa League trophy. Still, for a club of United’s stature, that’s not enough and they should be looking towards their first Premier League title since Sir Alex left.
However, the self-proclaimed Special One has put everything in place to do just that. He’s bought a new spine of the team through a centre-back, defensive midfielder and a striker. Now it’s down to the Portuguese coach to maximise the potential of his talented squad.
Here’s what José Mourinho can do to win the Premier League this season.
Start Anthony Martial
Two seasons ago, Anthony Martial was heralded as the best young talent in world football. Now he’s seen as a player on the verge of wasting his potential, why? Because Mourinho has refused to embrace the talent that he is. On his day, the French wonderkid can take on any full-back in the world, beating them with pace and trickery.
The main reason as to why the two fell out so emphatically last year was because Mourinho felt the winger didn’t pull his weight defensively. In a Mourinho team, the wingers are required to track back and mark their full-backs, effectively reverting into a back six.
If Martial were to be freed of Mourinho’s excessively defensive mentality, he could show the world why nearly every top team was fighting for him two years ago. Mourinho needs to start the Frenchman and let him do what he does best; beat players down the flanks, cut in and imitate Thierry Henry.
Give Paul Pogba a free role
Do we want the Pogba of last season or the Frenchman that contributed to 66 goals in 178 games at Juventus? I think the latter would suffice. As mentioned before, we know that José Mourinho holds close to his heart the defensive work rate of his players in every aspect of the pitch. Last season, Paul Pogba scored 5 goals and provided 4 assists, numbers that best represent his shackled role in the team.
The signing of Nemanja Matić hopefully gives Mourinho the defensive security he so desperately craves in the midfield. This, in turn, should allow Paul Pogba to be the most advanced midfielder in the team, regardless of whether it’s a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. With a free role, Pogba could do what he does best, drive through the middle of the pitch, take on players and score long range goals.
These two players are key to Manchester United’s creativity and potential to score goals. Mourinho’s fear to lose games is hindering his team’s attacking play so much so that world class United players now look average. It’s imperative the 54-year old allows his gifted players to express themselves in the final third instead of relying solely on Antonio Valencia to create chances.