As Mourinho Continues The Pogba Guessing Game, Right-Back Should Be A Priority
As he proved in the build-up to this friendly, Jose Mourinho is a man who likes to indulge in the seemingly endless guessing game that is the modern transfer saga, with his nods, winks and knowing smiles when it comes to the apparent deal for Paul Pogba all salivated over and reported as such.
Presumably the Portuguese is playing ball with the daily rumours because he knows that this is a deal which will get over the line eventually – at £100m or not – but should he actually be focusing his attention elsewhere?
United lined up with Antonio Valencia at right-back (and captain) here, and although all the usual pre-season caveats must apply, he was sluggish for the first goal from Gonzalo Castro and then conceded the penalty from which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made it 2-0. In addition, we haven’t seen much from the Ecuadorian over the past few years to suggest that he’s Mourinho’s long-term solution in that position. Who is, though? And is he currently at the club?
The youngster Timothy Fosu-Mensah has done well when called upon, and Phil Jones and Ashley Young could play there. Matteo Darmian would be the best option, but his first season in England was fairly up and down.
When United released their new squad numbers this week the No. 2 was left vacant. Could it be filled before the start of the season?
Memphis Depay’s Poor Distribution Leaves Him Vulnerable
In fixtures such as these, it’s rarely a good thing to be trending on Twitter by half-time.
Yet that was the case for Memphis Depay, who far too often in the first period was guilty of dallying on the ball and overplaying when a simple solution would have done.
There is clearly raw talent in the feet of the young Dutchman, but whilst all of the attention was understandably on Juan Mata following the appointment of Mourinho at Old Trafford, it is looking increasingly like he could be the biggest loser in United’s Portuguese man o’ war shake-up.
Memphis just doesn’t look like a Mourinho player, as he doesn’t have the work ethic to play in one of the three advanced midfield positions behind the forward, or the intelligence to be that forward himself – something that Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford would have a thing or two to say about anyway.
The penny doesn’t seem to have dropped with him, but it certainly has with United’s fans, who weren’t slow to show their displeasure over a display which was ended at half-time when Mourinho replaced him with Rashford.
Again, this is only pre-season, but the manager can’t have liked what he saw.
Borussia Dortmund Show Progress Despite Departures
Just before the game Dortmund casually dropped the news of their second big signing in two days, with Andre Schurrle joining the re-signed Mario Gotze at the club.
Neither played here, obviously, and with Marco Reus also absent, we got a chance to look at a few more of the German club’s top talents, most notably the youngster Ousmane Dembele, who made it 3-0 with a fantastic run which bamboozled Marcos Rojo before an emphatic finish.
What this week has done, then, is move the narrative on from Dortmund again losing top players this summer, with no-one now talking about Mats Hummels moving to Bayern Munich, Ilkay Gundogan joining Manchester City and Henrikh Mkhitaryan – almost inevitably on target with a consolation here – jumping ship to United.
Dortmund are a team who are certainly improving under Thomas Tuchel, and this could be the week when that improvement gained tangible results, both off the pitch and on.
They’ll be a force to be reckoned with at home and abroad this season.
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