The Manchester United fans have been feeling relatively downbeat in the Transfer Tavern this season due to the dominance of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table.
There’s no doubt about it, the dynamic is changing in Manchester. Two of the world’s footballing elites reside in the same northern English city, but one of them is something of a newbie on the scene. After years of being on the receiving end of taunting and humiliation, it appears that Manchester City are finally tasting sweet revenge this season by blowing away the rest of the division with their high-pressing, possession-based, and seemingly flawless philosophy.
If this season is going to teach United one thing, it’s that they need to act a little like their neighbours in order to emulate them. For Mourinho, this means he must instigate an overhaul in his squad this summer; trim it of the deadwood and sign a handful of players who possess genuine quality.
During the summer transfer window of 2017, Guardiola ushered the likes of Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna, Samir Nasri, Aleksandar Kolarov and Gael Clichy out the exit door to make way for a new generation of superstars. His cut-throat attitude has served him about as well as it possibly could have, and although one of his major acquisitions Benjamin Mendy has been sidelined for almost the entirety of the season, his emphasis on signing quality full-backs seems to have been a smart decision.
Mourinho could learn a lesson from his old-rival this summer and instigate a clear out of his own, starting with some of the fringe players of his squad such as Matteo Darmian. According to reports from Calciomercato (via The Daily Star), Darmian has agreed a deal to join Juventus at the end of the season, although no official bid has been submitted to United as of yet.
If Darmian does indeed leave the club then United have to make a statement of intent to the rest of the league by replacing him with a top quality full-back, and with that being said The Red Devils should look no further than Alex Sandro of Juventus. Although Darmian is naturally a right-back, he has often been deployed at left-back during his United career, and Sandro would be a huge improvement on what the Italian has offered in that position during his stint with the club.
Unlike Ashley Young who currently plays at left-back, Sandro is a naturally left-footed player who would provide balance on that side of the pitch. The Brazilian is a solid defender with plenty of technical ability to offer at the business end of the pitch, and his injection of quality would undoubtedly transform the overall performance of United’s defence.
Judging by how the current campaign has panned out, it’s a long way back for United to narrow the gulf in class between themselves and Man City. However, they must attempt to prevent their local-rivals from entering a period of dominance in English football by replacing some of their weaker squad members with proven winners of Champions League quality, such as Alex Sandro.