Jose Mourinho will have to work his magic on the weakest squad he's ever inherited

The man expected to be Manchester United's next manager has his work cut out

Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho

Picture by: Martin Rickett / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Twelve years ago, Jose Mourinho raced down the Old Trafford touchline and now it looks like he will be pacing a portion of it every other week.

Manchester United have yet to announce the appointment of the former Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid manager - or the dismissal of outgoing incumbent Louis van Gaal - but if the fervent rumour mill is to be believed, it's only a matter of time before we start putting the words 'Manchester United manager' in front of Mourinho's name.

There is no question that Van Gaal has underwhelmed in the role after picking up the pieces of David Moyes' disastrous reign.

But there is no guarantee that Mourinho will do any better, despite his track record of instantaneous success almost everywhere he goes.

But what is he inheriting and can he deliver as quickly as he often can?


Instant success is easier when most of the pieces you need are already in place. Usually Mourinho teams do well in Year One, excel in Year Two and implode in the third season.

Yet when he took over Chelsea (the first time), Inter and Real, they were all at least Top Two sides in their respective leagues and had some of the key stars already in place before he put his stamp on proceedings. 

But this United squad is imbalanced, hasn't been in the Top Three since Alex Ferguson retired, and lacks the type of quality the incoming manager would crave.

Anthony Martial, David De Gea, and Luke Shaw, who Mourinho was interested in signing from Southampton a couple of years ago, would appear to be among a handful of players with definite long-term futures (Shaw, on the assumption that he recovers from his leg break).

But while Van Gaal trusted the intelligent but physically smaller Daley Blind at centre-back, it is unlikely that a manager like Mourinho, who favours a degree of physicality and power, would countenance such a role for the Dutch international.

There are a few gems that have progressed from the youth ranks to the first team - namely Marcus Rashford - that would be a boost, but unfortunately Mourinho has rarely shown a willingness to regularly give youth a chance at previous clubs. His record shows that he prefers the ready-made to the raw types that mix magic with mistakes.

While Rashford and Jesse Lingard have blossomed under Van Gaal, Memphis Depay would be one example of a player that may require patience to tease out his qualities on a far more regular basis.


One of the positives on Mourinho's side is the vast spending power Manchester United will have this summer and beyond. However, the lack of Champions League football and recent track record could reduce the temptation for the very best players in considering Manchester United as an option, with Barcelona, Bayern Munich (as we saw with the Renato Sanches transfer), PSG, Manchester City and Real Madrid among the sides ahead of them in the queue. 

But, if the claims that Mourinho would be given a £300 million transfer budget are true, that buys a lot of apples - and more importantly players. That will also be aided by the fact that the manager is represented by one of the most influential agents around in Jorge Mendes.

However, some of the ready-made players already at the club are on the decline. Michael Carrick is expected to leave and doesn't seem to be a Mourinho-type player in any case; Bastian Schweinsteiger is a shadow of his former self; and a technician like Juan Mata has previously been discarded by the Portuguese coach at Chelsea. Does Mourinho envisage Wayne Rooney moving to midfield as something that he would like to see?

Bringing in an influx of players - seven or eight new faces is the general expectation - only leads to an even more bloated and disjointed squad, so finding buyers for some of the surplus squad members is of paramount importance.

However, given the vast sums he has been afforded in the past, he has rarely made a faux pas in the transfer market once he identifies the players he believes will improve what he already has. 

But there is no doubt that this will be Mourinho's greatest challenge with all the pressure that brings. And as we saw at Chelsea earlier this season, the pressure of poor results did not have a very good effect on him.