Mourinho thrives with a Prag-Matic approach!

By on August 2, 2017

Embed from Getty Images

Jose Mourinho used to thrive when playing a pragmatic style of football in big matches, so that could be why he has made an approach to bring ‘Mr. Prag-Matic’ – Serbia midfielder Nemanja Matic – to his current club Manchester United this summer. Mourinho previously signed Matic for his former side Chelsea for £21million from Portuguese team Benfica in January 2014 and the midfield enforcer proved to be a key cog for the Special One in the 2014/15 Blues title winning side. However, the West London outfit have since upgraded when it comes to midfielders able to break up play, with the acquisition of the omnipotent N’Golo Kante last year and this summer the £40million signing of Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco. Although Bakayoko may miss the start of the campaign with injury, the 22-year-old is seen as a younger model of 28-year-old Matic by Blues’ boss Antonio Conte, so the Stamford Bridge side are willing to sell Matic to cover the cost of the new number 14 wearing France international. Conte also has Cesc Fabregas at his services, who could partner either Kante or Bakayoko in the middle of the park.

Neman for the job!

Mourinho would often play Matic in those crucial games during his second spell at the Bridge between 2013 and 2015, even if that meant the team would adopt a more pragmatic approach and play an extra defensive player in the heart of the side. It could be argued the Red Devils lack this type of footballer, which usually fills a spot in Mourinho’s spine in any successful side, as the closest they currently have is 36-year-old captain Michael Carrick. The new club captain has signed a contract until next summer at Old Trafford, but a passer-master in his thirties is not going to be around forever, having already had his testimonial match at the start of June – which ended in a 2-2 draw with a goal from the number sixteen. This could be the main reason for Mourinho targeting another player from his ex, having already obtained striker Romelu Lukaku and attacking midfielder Juan Mata in his squad.

United are hoping to complete a £40 million move for Matic, which would be their third signing of the transfer window, having spent £31million on 23-year-old Swedish defender Victor Lindelof and £75million on Lukaku from Everton. That would take their total outlay to £146million, which is still some way short of the £200million+ spent by close rivals Manchester City – mostly on full-backs.

£40million for a 28-year-old, who does not score many goals per season, seems an excessive fee, but in the current inflated market, it is the only way to get a specialised player. Plus, if he can produce a few more of those thunderbolts he scored in the 4-2 FA Cup semi-final victory over Tottenham at Wembley in April, he be welcomed with open arms by United fans. When questioned on the £40 million move for Matic from Chelsea, Mourinho responded by stating: “I think we have a chance. Number 31 is a free number.” This answer gives the indication the strong Serb will be inheriting the jersey left behind by Bastian Schweinsteiger in March, when the German departed for Chicago. Matic could first face his former side when Chelsea meet Man Utd at home in the 2017/18 Premier League season during the opening weekend of November.

Auto-Matic upgrade for Pogba!

World record signing Paul Pogba and Spanish star Ander Herrera regularly occupied these positions last season, but both were probably brought to club as creative players, who would be expected to contribute to the attack. Having a destroyer player like Matic in the side may allow Pogba to get forward from his central midfield spot against the weaker sides, which may turn some of those home draws into wins and could help Pogba replicate the stats he commanded at Juventus. Another option in that area of the pitch – 29-year-old Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini – has recently been linked with a switch to Turkish side Galatasaray, but Mourinho squashed those rumours after a 3-0 pre-season friendly win over Valerenga in Norway. Pre-season preparation has been going well for Mourinho’s men, having only lost one game – 1-0 to Barcelona in America – when Brazil forward Neymar grabbed the winner, despite being linked with an incredible £196million move to Paris St-Germain. If 25-year-old Neymar does make the transfer from the Nou Camp to the French capital, it would obliterate the world record fee paid by Man Utd for Pogba in 2016. The reason this deal is even plausible is as a result of the huge buy-out clause in the Brazilian goal-machine’s Barca contact, which is reported to be just shy of £200million.

How Man Utd’s Starting XI could look in 2017/18:

GK: David De Gea
RB: Antonio Valencia
CB: Victor Lindelof
CB: Eric Bailly
LB: Daley Blind
CMF: Nemanja Matic
CMF: Paul Pogba
RWF: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
AMF: Juan Mata
LWF: Marcus Rasford
ST: Romelu Lukaku

Subs: Sergio Romero, Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian, Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial.

HOMEPAGE PHOTO CREDIT: CFC Unofficial [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

About Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis can relate almost anything to football and quite often does! You may have seen Richard's previous ideas and work in the BBC Match of the Day Magazine, from 2011 to present. He is a Manchester United and England fan, but has gone to see Leyton Orient play with his O's season ticket in the 2013/14 campaign. Aside from football, Richard has written articles on Doctor Who and studies English Language and Linguistics at the University of Westminster. Aspiring sports journalist.