Written By : Bhavdeep Singh
Manchester United confirmed the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic earlier this week, and it won’t be too late before the Borussia Dortmund Midfielder, Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be announced as well (after confirmation by Borussia Dortmund earlier this week). Let’s take a look at how they will be played by Jose Mourinho.
Jose’s most common formation is the 4-2-3-1, he does resort to the 4-3-3 once a while but that’s pretty much all there is to it. Whilst at Real Madrid, he had one of the most lethal counter attacking teams in recent memory, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that he’s trying to do exactly that with United, who seem to have lost that in the recent past. He prefers pacy and powerful players and that is where Juan Mata loses out (hence rumours of him moving out of United are highly likely to come true), while technically gifted, he isn’t the fastest or strongest player option in the squad. With his new signings, Jose seems to want stabilise both flanks as well as hope for a strong core. Which isn’t too bad if you think of it.
Eric Bailly : A sigh of relief for Daley Blind and the back 4
The very first signing of the summer for Manchester United was a defender and it wasn’t a surprise.
Manchester United played Daley Blind in central defence along with Chris Smalling in central defence under Louis Van Gaal, needless to say, that didn’t work out very well for them. While a very versatile player, Daley Blind is the jack of all trades but master of none, he goes up the field and helps out in distributing the ball well, but as a defender, he’s far from effective, physically weak, he was often the breaking point of the defence and we cannot let that happen again.
Enter Eric Bailly, most importantly, a defender in the true meaning, he provides the strength that United were lacking in a central defensive position, he can pair up very well with Chris Smalling to provide for a solid core, with minimum breaking points, or at least, we can hope he does. As a player in the Spanish La Liga, he has dealt with some of the most impressive attacking teams (both Madrids and Barcelona) so it would be safe to conclude that he can perform in the Europa league as well.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan : A goodbye to Mata?
Rated as the Bundesliga players’ player of the year for the 2015/16 season, Henrikh Mkhitaryan seems to be a very good signing for Manchester United. As Jose’s tactics and requirements go, he seems to check all boxes, with explosive natural pace and a great degree of strength, Mkhitaryan’s ability as an impeccable mid fielder is barely doubted.
This might be sad news for most United fans, but his arrival would most probably mean a departure for Juan Mata. Under Van Gaal, he played on the wing several times which did not fare well for the team, it was weird and had an unbalanced midfield, which is of course, never a good thing. Added to that is a lack of created chances and as a a result, goals. Now, Mata wasn’t all that bad, as mentioned earlier, he is quite gifted when it comes to tactics, he knows where and when to pass the ball, but with Wayne Rooney doing a great job in central mid and the qualities of Mkhitaryan, is it really necessary?
Finally, there are a lot of other options if Mkhi gets injured, or is unable to play for a few games (its football, everyone gets injured once in a while), United do have Antonio Valencia and Ashely Young, who wont be playing as wing backs as they did under Van Gaal, therefore Mata’s presence doesn’t really matter, theoretically speaking. I would therefore advise every United and Mata fan to prepare themselves for an announcement regarding his departure.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic : Jose’s trump card
Everyone’s heard of him, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is perhaps the biggest signing of the summer for United, right off the bat, he seems like a man that will put an end to Manchester United’s attacking problems. His pairing up with Jose simply adds to the fact that he is an experienced and powerful player who can deliver when he is asked to.
Tactically speaking, he might not be the fastest person in town, but with his experience and power (breaking an all time record in the Manchester United medical) should be enough to compensate for that. Added to that is his impressive track record, not only has he played in most European Leagues, but he’s won them all, and in his words, he’s come to the Premier League to do just that. Now that’s where the hiccup comes in, while Zlatan is undoubtedly one of the most impressive strikers in European football, there are a few factors that put that little doubt in your head about his success at United.
First off , his age, the man is 34 years old, of course, you have 38 year olds playing for the likes of Juventus and full time at that, but is Zlatan like that? Only time shall tell, which, in my opinion, is quite a risk.
Next, and I can’t stress this enough, he’s come to the Premier League, the most competitive league in the world, from Ligue 1, which, like it or not, pretty much favours PSG, his former club. So there would be a lot more pressure on him and theoretically, more competition, can he overcome that? Di Maria couldn’t, Memphis can’t seem to. Now, the most popular counter argument for this would be that he’s played in La Liga and Serie A as well, and while I can agree on the competition in Serie A at his time there, La Liga is another league that favours three teams, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, which, don’t get me wrong, are absolutely brilliant teams and hence are doing well in all competitions, but the competition in the very league is close to nothing.
That all being said, it would be interesting to see what Zlatan can bring to the Premier League, the stats are behind him, but they were behind Memphis and Di Maria as well and I have never been so excited to be proven wrong, let’s hope he does that and as Adidas puts it, breaks expectations.
Manchester United seem to be creating something special with their signings, Mourinho seems to have perfected pretty much all spheres of his squad, but something seems to be missing and that is a major part of the “solid core.”
While Bailly would provide a tight and rigid defensive option, Manchester United seem to be lacking a creative midfielder, the option of Schmidfield did seem to work for them, but given Schweinsteiger’s age and time out of the squad, there’s a low chance that we’d be seeing a lot of that. What Manchester United do need is a giant, someone along the lines of Paul Pogba or N’golo Kante to provide for that creativity, the boost and the flair that Manchester United have lost over the years, with rumours about Jose bidding for the former, we could only hope that something goes through.
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