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Chris Smalling wrestles for the ball with Leicester's Shinji Okazaki.

Jose Mourinho will face three key issues at Manchester United

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With Jose Mourinho's appointment as the new manager of Manchester United having finally been confirmed this week, talk has already began to turn to who the club will look to bring in this summer.

With a host of superstar names having already been linked to the Old Trafford outfit over the past few days and weeks, it certainly appears it is going to be a period of change for this season's FA Cup winners.

However, one of Mourinho's first priorities upon taking the helm must surely be to address some of the glaring problems already facing the current squad. 

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Ahead of the upcoming summer transfer window, and presumable a period of heaving spending for Manchester United, we take a look at three key issues still facing the new man in charge, Jose Mourinho.

Defensive Conundrum 

One of the few redeeming factors of an otherwise miserable three years for the Red Devils has been the continued development of Chris Smalling.

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A player who at times looked both out of his depth, as well as lacking in the necessary technical ability to succeed in the Premier League, Smalling has proved to even his harshest critics this season that he is capable of holding down one of the two starting centre-back positions.

The issue of finding someone capable of filling the other position however, remains. Whilst Daley Blind has performed more than admirably in the position over the past two seasons, finding an out-and-out natural defender to partner Smalling at the back remains a priority.

Both Real Madrid's Raphael Varane and Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte are reported to be long-term targets of the club, whilst AS Roma's Kostas Manolas and Everton's John Stones have also been linked with a move in recent weeks - the latter having been the subject of a £40 million bid from Mourinho at his previous club Chelsea.

Norwich City v Manchester United - Barclays Premier League

Regardless of who United choose to pursue, however, none are likely to come cheap. Both Roma and Bilbao are reportedly willing to play hard-ball over any potential deal, with both clubs said to be holding out for a £35 million plus bid.

Varane is also unlikely to be prised away so easily. Seen as many by the long-term successor to current Real Madrid centre back Pepe, Mourinho will certainly have a job on his hands if he is to try and persuade his former employers to do business with him once again. 

Midfield Misfortune

Despite spending heavily on the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera, under former manager Louis van Gaal, United’s midfield is still far from the level required to challenge for the Premier League title once again.

The £25 million rated Schneiderlin was meant to provide some much needed midfield bite and grit, whilst the £33 million rated Herrera was seen as the ideal man to provide some much needed spark and creativity – something severely lacking in United’s side since Paul Scholes’ retirement.

FC Midtjylland v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: First Leg

In reality, however, both have failed to live up to the weighty expectations that come as part and parcel of playing for Manchester United.

Although both players have shown in glimpses that they possess the necessary ability to be first team regulars, a succession of injuries – as well as a supposed falling out with Louis van Gaal – have robbed the pair of any semblance of consistency.

As a result, addressing the issues in United’s midfield will remain an absolute priority for Mourinho, and will likely be one of his first, and most crucial, tasks at the club.

Whether that means bringing in new players who are more up to the task of filling the void left by both Scholes – and the seemingly soon-to-be departed Michael Carrick – or trying to coax a higher level of performance out of his current batch of players, remains to be seen.

Youth or Experience

Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

One of the biggest perceived negatives of Manchester United appointing Jose Mourinho is his supposed poor track record of giving youth a chance throughout his managerial career.

Consider the amount of young talent that has been on show this season at the Theatre of Dreams, and this point becomes a lot more vital.

With players such as Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, and Marcus Rashford all having made a serious impression on the Old Trafford faithful this season, Mourinho will certainly be under pressure to continue the tradition of giving youth a chance within the starting line-up.

Despite the impressive form on show by the aforementioned names, however, continuing to give these players as much game time as former manager Louis van Gaal chose to, might not be as simple as it sounds. 

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-MOURINHO

Marcus Rashford's meteoric rise from academy prospect to United and England goalscoring hero in the space of just four months might never have happened were it not for the hamstring injury suffered by Anthony Martial in the build up to the FC Midtjylland clash.

The same is true of both Borthwick-Jackson and Fosu-Mensah, with both only being afforded a chance in the first team as a result of injuries suffered by the more experienced Matteo Darmian and Luke Shaw respectively. 

Whilst many will assume that their performances this seasons will be enough to warrant further chances in the team come the start of next season, Mourinho may just choose to opt for experience over youth, as he aims to get Manchester United back to their winning ways of old.

How will Jose Mourinho do as the new Manchester United manager? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!

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Topics:
Wayne Rooney
Manchester United
Football
Premier League
Ryan Giggs
Cristiano Ronaldo
David Beckham

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