Is Jose Mourinho right to get rid of eight academy prospects at Old Trafford?

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Jose Mourinho is wasting no time in stamping his authority on the Manchester United team.

Following the frustrating pre-season tour of China, where the team suffered a 4-1 humbling at the hands of Borussia Dortmund and saw their second game against rivals Manchester City cancelled due to poor weather and pitch conditions, the Portuguese manager is looking to add finishing touches to the squad.

In an attempt to trim his squad down to 24 players, the former Chelsea manager has taken some drastic measures. 


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According to the Daily Mail, Mourinho has decided to axe nine players from his provisional squad, with the group having been told to train with the under-21 team, as opposed to with the senior players. 

The most notable casualty of this action is German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who only a year ago, was brought in from Bayern Munich for £7 million, in a deal worth a hefty £160,000-a-week salary. 

With two more seasons left for the World Cup winner at Old Trafford, the experienced midfielder is now faced with a potentially early exit. 

Exclusion of Academy Prospects

In addition to Schweinsteiger's omission, eight other academy graduates are also set to be either demoted to the youth team or shown the door. 

Out of the young contingency, four players were genuinely seen by the former manager, Louis van Gaal, as well as United fans, as promising talents. 

Timothy Fosu-Mensah has already endeared himself to the supporters after showing glimpses of his potential last season, being handed a debut at left-back in the 3-2 win against Arsenal at home. 

The Dutch international is currently nursing a calf injury, and it will be interesting to see if the defender is given a second chance in the team once he recovers. 

Having won the under-21 Player of the Year award at the club, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson is seen as a player with immense potential but is not deemed a priority by the Portuguese manager for next season. 

20-year-old Andreas Pereira is yet another promising player who is set to be left out of the 24-man squad to start the season, with Mourinho having asked the Brazilian midfielder to gain some experience with another club before being considered for the Red Devils' main team. 

One of the more experienced players in the lot, James Wilson broke into the senior team as early as the 2014/2015 season, even managing to score two goals in the Premier League. 

Spending the previous campaign at Brighton & Hove Albion, the English striker was able to gain some valuable experience with the Seagulls. 

Another surprising exclusion is Belgian winger Adnan Januzaj, who served a loan spell with Borussia Dortmund last season. Despite promising displays for United during his first two years with the senior team, the 21-year-old has not caught the eye of Mourinho. 

In the worst case, the midfielder might be forced to look for another club, which would not be too difficult considering the valuable first team experience Januzaj has already racked up. 

Other academy players set to be dropped are Will Keane, Tyler Blackett, and Paddy McNair. 

Mourinho's History with Youth Players

The Portuguese tactician is not known to feature academy players in the first team on a regular basis. In fact, Mourinho prefers to stick with largely experienced players whenever he can. 

Despite the manager's reluctance to hand greater opportunities to academy players, the manager provided a list of all youth players he has helped break through to the first team during his stints at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid

The list mostly consists of players that have not been able to make a distinct mark for their clubs. However, a few names such as Alvaro Morata, Jese Rodriguez, Casemiro, Andreas Christensen, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are seen as bright prospects for the future. 

But, overall, Mourinho is more comfortable in deploying relatively established players in his teams, therefore, it is not wholly surprising that he has opted to leave out eight youth team graduates from the final squad at Old Trafford. 

Making Space for New Arrivals

The former Porto manager has already brought in several high-profile players to the club such as Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and the formidable Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

With the impending arrival of Paul Pogba from Juventus, possibly for a world record transfer fee, Mourinho needs space in the side to accommodate the players that are crucial for the team in his view. 

United are still in the running for a few more transfers before the end of the window as the 53-year-old continues to shape the team in his own vision. 

It could be argued that the aforementioned young players have not shown any obvious signs of exceptional talent. However, the likes of Fosu-Mensah and Borthwick-Jackson have only made a handful of appearances for the senior team, both tipped for a bright future. 

The same could be said for Wilson and Pereira, who have shown glimpses of their potential during their limited opportunities with the first team. 

Blackett, McNair, and Keane, on the other hand, have had slightly more opportunities to prove their worth in the first team, having far from impressed during that process. 

Therefore, some of the above exclusions by Mourinho seem to be legitimate, while a few others could be considered fairly questionable.

One academy player in particular who seems extremely likely to feature, not only in the first team squad, but even in the starting eleven next season, is English forward Marcus Rashford, who made a massive impact in a short span of time during the last campaign, managing to score crucial goals against Arsenal and Manchester City. 

Expected to slot in next to legendary striker Ibrahimovic in a front two pairing, Rashford is already being tipped for greatness at the tender age of 18. 

As for the debate over Schweinsteiger's United future, despite the obvious quality brought to the table by the former Bayern Munich man, the surplus of central midfielders in the side, in addition to the 31-year-old's age, could greatly reduce the player's opportunities at Old Trafford. 

Perhaps, an exit could be beneficial to both the player and the club. 

What do YOU make of Jose Mourinho's decision to axe so many Manchester United players? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!

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Wayne Rooney
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