We all know it is the manager who has to bite the bullet if results aren’t going well on the pitch, but what about the players he sends out there?
Specifically, what about the ones he brought to the club with him?
[ MORE: Mourinho on United exit ]
Jose Mourinho will likely be sat in his swanky London house rubbing his chin right about now, and as he tucks into another mince pie (’tis the season, Jose…) he will wonder if signing the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly was really worth all of the hassle.
It is also worth remembering he shipped out the likes of Wayne Rooney, Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger from Old Trafford, but all of those moves still seem like the correct ones. Then there is his treatment of Luke Shaw, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and others. With no Director of Football in charge, Mourinho had the ultimate say on which players were bought and sold, so the buck has to stop with him for building this squad.
With that in mind, lets rank all of Mourinho’s signings since he arrived in the summer of 2016 to try and turn United’s fortunes around. Parental guidance: some of these scores may be offensive.
Summer 2016 transfer window
Eric Bailly – $38 million from Villarreal: Had a great debut season but regressed massively in last few years. One of the victims of Mourinho’s preseason comments about wanting to sign a new deal. Lacking in confidence. 6/10
Paul Pogba – $112 million from Juventus: Probably the biggest problem for Mourinho throughout his time at United, as Pogba played, scored, assisted and tried to do it all. Mourinho benched him multiple times and in the end, despite giving him the captaincy which he then took away after Pogba’s comments in the media, it felt like it was a battle between Pogba and Jose to win the dressing room. Pogba won. 4/10
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – $33 million from Borussia Dortmund: Played mostly in the Europa League in 2016-17 and scored some big goals in the run to win that trophy. United thought they had a great deal when they swapped him for Alexis Sanchez in January 2018, but we all know how that worked out. Never suited Mourinho’s defensive style and apart from a few amazing goals, can be considered a flop. 3/10
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Free transfer from PSG: Incredible signing who held the squad together. Scored 28 goals in all competitions before his serious knee injury. Never returned to the same form before leaving to join the LA Galaxy in March 2018 as Lukaku was the main man at that point. Still, probably Jose’s best signing as United’s manager. 9/10
Summer 2017 transfer window
Victor Lindelof – $38 million from Benfica: Struggled massively last season but was better in recent months after a strong World Cup for Sweden. Still guilty of a howler or too, but you can never question his commitment. The entire defensive unit has had a shocker alongside him 5/10
Romelu Lukaku – $114 million from Everton: If you judge him by the goals he has scored, Lukaku is a success. 33 goals in 70 games for United is just less than a goal every other game but his overall play hasn’t been good enough. You can argue that Lukaku hasn’t had enough support around him, and that is probably true. But his hold-up play really hasn’t improved that much over the past 12 months. 6/10
Nemanja Matic – $50 million from Chelsea: Was very good for the first half of last season after arriving from Chelsea, and quite why they allowed their Serbian destroyer to leave was baffling. However, like Bailly and others he regressed this season markedly. Mourinho turned to one of his favorites to lock down the midfield and Matic has been okay. Nothing more. Nothing less. 6/10
Winter 2018 transfer window
Alexis Sanchez – Swap deal for Mkhitaryan with Arsenal: Just hasn’t worked out at all. Sanchez’s tenacity seemed like a perfect fit for Mourinho but he didn’t deliver goals, was played out of position several times and in the end they fell out despite a few key goals from the Chilean. Sanchez’s recent injury means this season has been a write off and he perhaps, alongside Pogba, has the most to gain from a new manager coming in. 2/10
Summer 2018 transfer window
Diogo Dalot – $24 million from FC Porto: Has shown promising signs in recent weeks. Still just 19 years old, but looks set to be United’s long-term right back once he shakes off his recent injuries. Whips in some dangerous crosses, and one of the better deals Mourinho did. 7/10
Fred – $60 million from Shakhtar Donetsk: This has been one of the most disappointing deals so far. The Brazilian midfielder was a perfect two-way midfielder at Shakhtar in recent seasons but he seems to have lost his bite after a decent start to life at Old Trafford. Was meant to shore things up alongside Nemanja Matic in midfield but had the opposite impact. 3/10
Lee Grant – $1.9 million from Stoke City: Back up goalkeeper who has hardly played but hasn’t done much wrong when he has. 4/10