On current form, Manchester United are in free fall.
Despite the arrivals of Jose Mourinho, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Red Devils have endured their worst start to a season since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. It’s fair to say fans didn’t expect to be below Watford.
Their defence has been at the heart of the problem. Furthermore, in light of scarce clean sheets, the Special One looks set to toughen up his back four over the January transfer window.
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Most supporters expected Mourinho’s selection as manager to bring an end to what had proven a tumultuous three years for United.
The statistics show however, rather damningly, that the Portguese’s arrival has sent the club into an even greater rut. While there is still bundles of time to turn the season around, they’ll have to do so sooner rather than later.
Shoring up the defence should be the first task Mourinho seeks to complete. The 4-0 drubbing at Chelsea exemplified just how easily the United back four can buckle when truly tested.
Antonio Valencia’s gung ho runs can often see him a liability and Daley Blind is arguably a country mile out of position. Meanwhile, Chris Smalling has appeared a shadow of his former self and even Eric Bailly has stalled in recent weeks.
The Red Devils have kept just four clean sheets in the league this season and two came against promoted sides. In addition, their goal difference is inferior to Chelsea’s by a staggering score of 16.
Therefore, the upcoming January window could see Mourinho revert to his tried and trusted method of solving problems, spending big.
According to the Mirror, Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk proves a man of particular interest.
It is believed that the Dutchman is desired as a centre-back who would toughen up what the United hierarchy currently consider a ‘soft’ defence.
The 25-year-old has impressed greatly in less than 12 months in the Premier League. His impeccable leadership and gritty determination has seen his name frequented in association with giants of English football.
Given his age and Premier League experience already too, Van Dijk would likely settle quickly yet with room to kick on into the future.
Nevertheless, if Mourinho wants his man, it could set him back in excess of £30 million. If that were the case, it would be the second time in just six months that the 53-year-old will have spent such a fee on a centre half.
Whether or not the Old Trafford based side move for Van Dijk in January though, it is clear great change is needed at the club.
Currently, it appears the Red Devils are trapped in an unhealthy cycle that neither David Moyes, Louis van Gaal or Mourinho have been able to snap them out of.
As long as they continue to ship great numbers of goals however, it is doubtful that such a pattern will change. At least in spending big, they would be showing intent to turn their fortunes around.
Do you think Van Dijk is the answer to Manchester United's defensive woes? Have YOUR say in the comment box below