Football

New Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

Jose Mourinho needs to trim the Manchester United squad before adding to it

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The past three seasons have seen Manchester United fall from the Premier League pedestal to struggling to qualify for Europe.

Currently on their third manager after Sir Alex Ferguson bid farewell to the 'Theatre of Dreams', Jose Mourinho has now been handed his much awaited place as the gaffer at Old Trafford. 

Mourinho's first, and perhaps most tricky, task will be to let go of some of the players not required at the club; players that are not going to add much value to the side, but still earn an envious salary. 

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The hallmark of the Chelsea side, managed by the Portuguese during 2014/2015, was their thin squad, allowing just a handful of players to play regularly, and in the process build a strong chemistry. 

The Portuguese manager will look to implement the same formula at Old Trafford. 

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During Louis van Gaal's first season in charge of the Red Devils, there was a rapid influx of talent from all across Europe, which initially had the fans and club officials excited. 

However, the presence of excess players provided the Dutch manager with complex decisions to make, such as the dilemma of accommodating as many star players in the first team as possible. 

Let's take for example the players that arrived at Old Trafford during the summer of 2014. 

Topping the list of star signings was Argentine Angel di Maria from Real Madrid, who had just won the Champions League thanks to a stunning performance from the winger in the final against Atletico Madrid.

Everton v Manchester United - Premier League

Other high profile signings were Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Victor Valdes and the lethal Radamel Falcao on loan, among a few others. 

As a consequence, the first team saw rotations on a frequent basis during the course of the campaign, as the former Barcelona manager searched for the optimal starting eleven. 

Over 35 players featured for the club during the season in all competitions, including the league, which is a shocking statistic. 

There were times during the season when the likes of Di Maria and Falcao spent a great amount of time on the bench. The South American duo suffered a dismal campaign at the club which saw them exit for PSG and Chelsea respectively at the end of the season.

The following season saw more signings and even greater confusion in the selection of the team. 

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-ARSENAL

More talent entered the fray at Old Trafford, such as Anthony Martial, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian and Sergio Romero. 

United ended up fifth in the table, missing out on Champions League football for the second time in three seasons, and fans still did not know what the team's preferred first eleven was.

Last season, only Juan Mata made more than 30 appearances in the league, as the appearances were well spread among a fairly big contingency of players, pointing to the fact that there was no consistency in team selection, whereby hindering team chemistry.

Mourinho's arrival at the club will certainly change that, as the Portuguese has a tendency to stick with a preferred starting eleven, and tries his best to field the same team in most games, unless in the case of a suspension or injury. 

Find the Perfect XI

Manchester United v Chelsea - Premier League

All of Mourinho's past teams, whether it be Inter Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid or Porto, had a handful of players who formed the core of the team and played most of the games. 

The commonality among the above four teams; they all won the league during Mourinho's tenure at the club, with Inter and Porto winning the Champions League as well. 

At Chelsea, the Portuguese manager even publicly announced certain "untouchable" players at the club during 2006/2007. They were Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Claude Makelele, Michael Essien, John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech.

Chelsea's Ashley Cole (R) and teammates

These players were regulars for the first team and formed a decisive cohesion within the first team. Mourinho will be looking to instill the same chemistry within the United dressing room. 

The first step in doing so is the removal of players who are not going to add any significant value to the team. 

Trimming the squad

One of the positions that seems to be over-crowded is central midfield. A plethora of players such as Michael Carrick, Schweinsteiger, Blind, Schneiderlin, Herrera and Marouane Fellaini are all eligible for that position, but only two of them can realistically occupy those positions at the same time. 

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

So is there any need to keep that extra one or two players in the squad? Probably not. 

The removal of extra players will pave the way for players that are genuinely needed at the club; the center-back position for example, which was occupied by Blind and Carrick at certain times during the season due to injuries to the preferred center-backs.

Not only are the above players being played out of their natural position, but the central of defense is being occupied by part-time centre-backs, something that really should not happen at a top club. 

Trimming the squad will, therefore, also avoid players from having to play out of position. With a host of established players available, the manager might be tempted to include a player in the team due to his credentials, regardless of his preferred position. 

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-MOURINHO

Only by removing excess players in a particular position, the manager would be able to get clarity into what positions really need to be reinforced, instead of adding players to the squad for the sake of making transfers. 

Another key step in forming a strong team is to field the prominent players regularly. In United's case, they are the likes of Mata, Wayne Rooney, Martial, Blind and Chris Smalling. It is important that these players are kept in the team. 

The rest of the team, as well as new transfers, need to be included around the aforementioned players which can help the club build a strong foundation to launch a serious title challenge next year. 

Where will Manchester United finish next season under Jose Mourinho? 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
Juan Mata

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