Jose Mourinho pointed out that in 2006, Manchester United signed the best Tottenham Hotspur player at that time, Michael Carrick. They then did their shopping at White Hart Lane again picking up Dimitar Berbatov in 2008. He pointed out that in the present time, United cannot do their shopping at White Hart Lane again because Tottenham doesn’t need to sell.
With all due respect, United is a bigger club than Tottenham in terms of history, prestige, and scale. However, players from Premier League clubs like Tottenham are now less likely to go to United as the club is not as dominant as it was in the past. United is also not playing the kind of football that would excite many people. United who were once upon a time the dominant force in England has fallen so far short in recent times that clubs like Manchester City, Tottenham, and even Everton have overtaken or on par with United.
In the present time, clubs that United was expected to beat in the past have been able to match them or beat them on the pitch. It is no longer an attractive prospect to join United. Mourinho too spoke about clubs being able to spend big amounts and replace an entire chunk of the team with new signings a veiled reference to Manchester City.
It sounds like Mourinho is moaning and whining because, despite the struggles on the pitch, United remain one of the biggest clubs in the world and the richest. The club has one of the highest wage bills in the league and the club has made a substantial investment into the team since Mourinho joined the club. It isn’t like United has been miserly on the transfer market and hardly signed anyone. His comments also can be read as a reference to the club not being able to spend big the way City do.
Mourinho doesn’t need to be taught to on how to build a team because he has built successful teams at his previous clubs and at Chelsea in his first spell, he was the beneficiary of having the riches of Roman Abramovich to spend. At the moment at United, whoever has signed looks like an average player. The players are underperforming and Mourinho has not been able to form a team with the players he has got.
It can be argued that even if United sign Lionel Messi, the Messi of Argentina will turn up instead of what we normally see of him at Barcelona such is the state of the players at the club. I don’t like to harp on the past and make comparisons but on my next point, I would need to do just that.
United needs to improve on their scouting of players. Sir Alex would spend big on players in England with the potential for growth like he did with Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Dwight Yorke, Rio Ferdinand, and Wayne Rooney. He would also then scout and unearth players like Peter Schmeichel, Andrei Kanchelskis, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, Nemanja Vidic and had the good fortune and faith in bringing through members of the Class of 92 into the first team. Then there were the big signings from other leagues like Jaap Stam and Ruud Van Nistelrooy. There were signings that did not work too but generally when it has worked, it has rarely been with a player that is ready-made, established big star.
I don’t feel signing a ready-made, established star is wrong or it doesn’t work. I just feel signings need to be made carefully and diligently studied. At the moment, of all the Mourinho signings, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had the most positive impact but unfortunately has left the club after suffering a serious injury. Age was not on Ibrahimovic’s side too. The rest of his signings barring maybe Nemanja Matic have been on the periphery of things.
The biggest problem I feel is that he has not been able to form a team with the players he has including the signings he has made. He needs to add new players and quality into the team to make it better and if he is finding it difficult to get players he wants, he should scout for players that are of quality and are more achievable targets.