The 2016/17 season is coming to a close, which means that managers and clubs have already started planning for the future. For Jose Mourinho and Manchester United, this summer is an important one. Once again, the club faces a summer of spending and for good reason as well. Mourinho started the clearout when he sold Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin to Olympique Lyon and Everton, respectively, in the January transfer window.
Now as the summer window approaches, it’s clear that this Man Utd squad needs some fresh faces and better depth in quality. Before they buy new players, Mourinho needs to let go of a few more players this summer. Let’s take a look at who they might be.
The first one on this list is Chris Smalling. It might seem strange that the England international is someone who could be let go this summer. After all, he had a superb season under his previous manager Louis Van Gaal. He established himself alongside Daley Blind in the heart of United’s defense in the 2015/16 campaign.
When Smalling arrived from Craven Cottage, not too much was expected of him in terms of talent, but the youngster made the brightest of impressions early on under Sir Alex Ferguson. In the absence of vital defenders such as Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand during that time, Smalling was United’s anchor in defense and earned reviews.
Fast forward to the present and the season hasn’t been the same from Smalling. He has faced injury problems throughout the campaign and has missed some vital games. Even after returning from those niggling injuries, the England international hasn’t looked the same and it looks as though he will be unable to recreate his best form. It might be harsh to say so, given that he is only 27.
Smalling’s performances haven’t been the same since last season. The former Fulham player has been singled out for criticism by fans for his displays and he might soon be seeing the exit sign light up for him at Carrington.
Next on the list is the player who was expected to shine alongside Smalling for Man Utd, Phil Jones. Now at the age of 25, Jones was expected to mature into a complete centre-back for Man Utd. Since joining the club back in 2011, Jones has found more consistency in remaining off the pitch, rather than on it.
In the past six years, Jones has been struggling with injuries on a regular basis. In 2013, Sir Alex made a bold claim about the then 21-year-old. He said:”Jones, arguably the way he is looking, could be our best ever player. I think Jones may be one of the best players we have ever had, not matter where we play him. At 21 years of age, he is going to be a phenomenal player. I think he can play anywhere on the pitch”
Now those are some strong words coming from the finest manager club football has seen, but he had good reason to say so. Jones had started off well with the Red Devils at a very young age and it looked as though for one moment, that he could actually live up to the great expectations of him. However, things took a turn for the worse and Jones was never able to recreate the same form that made Man Utd sign him up at such a young age from Blackburn Rovers.
Now under Mourinho, Jones had hoped that he could have a fresh start, unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be. Jones has struggled with injuries this season as well. Injuries that have kept him sidelined for important games, just like Smalling. However, there was a time in the season where Jones and Marcos Rojo looked a solid partnership, in the absence of the Ivorian Eric Bailly. But now, looking at Jones’ recent displays for the Red Devils, it seems as though he also could be on his way out of Old Trafford.
There is a sense of disappointment in me as I write this one, Wayne Rooney’s Man Utd career seems to be like a ticking time bomb. Except that his will not explode, but rather defuse very quietly.
The club’s all-time top scorer, England’s all-time top scorer and owner of many other records, Rooney’s time with the Red Devils has taken him to the stars and back in the 12 years he’s been shooting the nets at Carrington and pleasing the Stretford End in Old Trafford. Rooney’s arrival from Everton in 2005 marked the beginning of a very special partnership between him and current Real Madrid Galactico, Cristiano Ronaldo.
And now after hitting the back of the net a record 250 times for his club, Rooney’s career with Jose Mourinho’s side seems to be nearing the end. This season, Rooney has somehow found himself in the right place at the right time and scored a few goals by doing so. Still, the general consensus among United fans seems to be that Rooney’s glory days are over and that he has outlived his usefulness to the club.
Rooney offers not much other than experience when he’s on the pitch, captaining his side in games. And while that is important, there cannot be any reason good enough to pay a player 300k pounds per week to sit on the bench or to give a pep talk to his younger team-mates, leadership shouldn’t have to come at that cost. Even if you leave the money aside, there isn’t much anyone can argue for Rooney’s case.
Rumors of interest from his boyhood club Everton are flying around. Interest from the cash-rich Chinese Super League clubs was also apparent in the January transfer window. One thing is for certain, Wazza’s time with the Red Devils is nearing its end.
Fourth on this list is the experienced and classy midfielder, Michael Carrick. Carrick has been an invaluable asset for Jose Mourinho’s side this season, his experience and calmness in the middle of the park is almost unmatched in the Premier League.
Ever since joining United back in 2006, Carrick has been one of the most underrated players the club has ever had on its books. His qualities on the ball and as a passer have been appreciated more only in his late 30s. It’s a shame he was never a regular on the international scene for England. However, Carrick has established himself as a vital cog in Jose Mourinho’s Man Utd.
Now at the age of 36 and with a contract running out in the summer, it seems as though the classy Englishman will be departing Old Trafford this season end. He has testimonial scheduled in June, which is definitely a big sign regarding his possible departure from the club. Carrick had been unbeaten in each of his appearances this season until United’s 2-0 loss to Arsenal last week.
Man Utd look to create a new history under Jose Mourinho in the coming years and players like Carrick will probably need to leave for the team to effectively transition into the kind of team that Mourinho would want, in the summer.
Last on this list, United’s Italian utility man, Matteo Darmian. There might be a case to be made for Darmian, in terms of being a squad player. Nonetheless, the Italian has never really stood out with his performances for the Red Devils.
Since joining the club in 2015 under Van Gaal, Darmian has tasted trophy success with last season’s FA Cup triumph and this season with the Community Shield and the EFL Cup. A reasonably decent trophy collection in his two years so far with the Old Trafford outfit, however, he has rarely offered the overall support from the flanks that has come from the likes of Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young.
There are a few qualities that make him useful. Darmian’s time in the Serie A has made him a decent defensive fullback/makeshift centre-back. However, going forward, Darmian has failed to offer an attacking threat on a consistent basis. Which is why, he might be one of the players to move away from the club in the summer.
The Italian has to fight for his future at Old Trafford, even if he doesn’t, there are certainly a dozen or more clubs in the Italian top tier that would want him in their ranks.