Louis Van Gaal’s two-year reign as manager of Manchester United is over, with his sacking announced just days after he masterminded the club’s first FA Cup triumph for 12 years. Jose Mourinho, if the hundreds of reports are to be believed, will step into the hot seat at Old Trafford and already speculation is mounting as to how the Red Devils will line up for their first football game of the new season in August.
The rumour mill has thrown up some interesting names that may be playing at the Theatre of Dreams come next season. Will Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally get a move to the Premier League? United have been mentioned as a possible destination in which the enigmatic Swede can see out the twilight days of his career. The striker has even been linked with a coaching role at the club, although United may have to see off Arsenal in the race for his signature.
Everton’s John Stones may seek pastures new after a poor season with the Goodison Park football club, linking up with Mourinho almost a year after he tried to sign him at Chelsea. Will Romelu Lukaku be given a second chance by Mourinho after being sold to Everton when the Portuguese was in charge at Stamford Bridge?
There could be a number of players leaving the club, too. Juan Mata has the most to fear, as he has already been sold by Mourinho when he was at Chelsea. Players such as Bastian Schweinsteiger and Daley Blind – brought to Old Trafford by van Gaal but yet to really fit in with the attacking ethos espoused by fans of the club – don’t seem to be, on the surface, players who Mourinho would usually build a team around. Speaking of this attacking ethos – it will be interesting if Mourinho will return to his usual defensive minded tactical decisions, and if so whether or not he will receive the same criticisms that Van Gaal received from the fanbase.
Players from the Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes eras could also be under threat, with makeshift wingbacks Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia ageing, Phil Jones missing in action and Marouane Fellaini as divisive as ever. Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard have impressed this season, but could they be under threat from Mourinho’s well-known mistrust of young players?
The Glazers have never shied away from backing their manager, and with a Champions League place a minimum requirement for the new manager, everything points to an interesting summer of upheaval at Old Trafford