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Manchester United

Mourinho's Manchester United signings: how they worked out

After arriving at Old Trafford, José Mourinho stated clearly the players he needed to return United to the top, and the club backed him until almost the end.

Mourinho's Manchester United signings: how they worked out

While in charge of Manchester United, Jose Mourinho would regularly claim that the Old Trafford giants were somehow unable to compete with their Premier League rivals in the transfer market. More to the point, however, is the hit-and-miss nature of the signings he did make, which totalled 400 million pounds ($506 million) since his arrival in 2016.

Below we look at Mourinho's major signings and their impact at Manchester United, with a few quotes thrown in from the man himself, who promised much, but ultimately failed to deliver.

Four key signings granted for Mourinho start

"We made a nucleus of four positions as priority to give a certain balance to the squad, and a push in terms of quality that I want," Mourinho said during his first assault on the transfer market as United boss.

"As you know, especially the ones with more vision, I am a manager that likes specialists, not multi-functional players. I am clear with my approach and model of player. I like one or two multi-functional players. You always need someone that can give you a hand.

"From these targets we have three [Bailly, Ibrahimovic, Mkhitaryan], until we have the fourth [Pogba] we are working hard on that, with Mr Woodward and the owners. When we have them we will breathe, we will be stable, and the market will still be open."

Eric Bailly - Villarreal, £30 million - June 2016

Ivorian centre back Bailly was Mourinho's first recruit and initially looked the part. But after struggling with injuries last season he has started only five Premier League matches this season as Mourinho continually chopped and changed lineups.

Battling | Mohamed Salah of Liverpool and Eric Bailly.
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Battling | Mohamed Salah of Liverpool and Eric Bailly.Clive BrunskillGetty Images

Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Paris St-Germain, free - July 2016

The charismatic Swede served Mourinho well in his first season and gave United the kind of "star quality" the fans have become used to seeing at Old Trafford. Scored 28 goals in his debut campaign and helped United back into the Champions League.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan - Borussia Dortmund, £27m - July 2016

The Armenian flattered to deceive in his only full season at United but was impressive in the Europa League and scored in the final against Ajax Amsterdam.

Ended up joining Arsenal midway through the following season as part of a deal that took Alexis Sanchez to Old Trafford.

Paul Pogba - Juventus, £89m - August 2016

Mourinho's biggest signing has never really become a dominant force in the Premier League, and this season the Frenchman appears to have fallen out with Mourinho after making his views felt about United's style of play.

Mourinho accused him of losing focus this season and started him on the bench in United's last three Premier League games. Issued a cryptic social media post after news emerged of Mourinho's exit, but then quickly removed it.

Further adjustments for Mourinho 

"I still have some bad feelings towards myself because I didn't give a real chance to everyone," Mourinho said in December 2016 referring to those who were in the squad before he arrived. "There are some positions in our squad where we have overbooked. 

"The attacking wing positions we have not just a few wingers but also people who can play there: we can add (Marcus) Rashford and (Wayne) Rooney to players like (Jesse) Lingard, (Juan) Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Memphis Depay, (Anthony) Martial and Ashley Young.

"To be honest, people like Young and Depay, I didn't really give them a run of matches to play, to prove. So I have this little bad feeling.”

The January 2017 window gave Jose the chance to release players that he didn't see forming part of his master plan. Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay were seen as surplus to requirements and could be used to bring in funds for the extra pieces of the jigsaw. In the end, no new players came in until the summer, when the manager admitted, "I'm happy with my squad, but I would like to have two more players - I never hide that." In the end he got the three he wanted.

Victor Lindelof - Benfica, £31m - June 2017

The Swede has slowly begun to establish himself in United's defence but has not been helped by the constant shuffling at the back as Mourinho tied and failed to find a way to stop the goals going in. The jury is still very much out.

Romelu Lukaku - Everton, £75m - July 2017

The powerhouse former Everton striker began with a bang at United and he could not stop scoring in the early months before his form dried up. He managed 24 goals in his first campaign, but this season he has struggled to recapture that form, not helped by United's defensive tactics.

Explanations | Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United speaks with Jose Mourinho.
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Explanations | Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United speaks with Jose Mourinho.Michael ReganGetty Images

Nemanja Matic - Chelsea, £40m - July 2017

It was a surprise when Chelsea allowed the holding midfielder to leave to a Premier League rival.

He was a good match for United's system last season, and Mourinho remained loyal to him this season despite a dip in form. Has made some mistakes this term and is portrayed as a pragmatic player rather than one to add much-needed flair.

Sensational Sanchez in winter wonder-land

“He was cheap wasn’t he? Free transfer! He was free. So for that price he’s fantastic," Mourinho said after agreeing a switch with Arsenal for Mkhitaryan. "I think everybody thinks the same in this country. Everyone has to agree that he is a fantastic player and the team that got him has a plus. We have a good group of attacking players you could see today we played with three of them, [Jesse] Lingard was on the bench, [Romelu] Lukaku was on the bench, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] at home, [Anthony] Martial at home. So we have a good group. His [Sanchez] quality is a plus and his experience is another plus.” 

Alexis Sanchez - Arsenal, swap deal, January 2018

Regarded with envy throughout Europe while he was at Arsenal, Sanchez has nevertheless been a huge flop at United.

Injuries and poor form have restricted the Chilean's appearances this season in which he has started only five times in the Premier League, scoring once.

Diogo Dalot - Porto, £19m, June 2018

The young right-sided player had to wait for his chance but has impressed since making his Premier League debut as a substitute against Southampton recently.

Tipped as a successor to Antonio Valencia, Dalot is an exciting prospect for the future.

Fred - Shakhtar Donetsk, £52m, June 2018

So far the Brazilian has looked like an expensive misfit with Mourinho apparently unconvinced that he justifies a place in the team. Did not even merit a place on the bench in last week's defeat by Liverpool. May get a chance to shine once a caretaker manager is in place.

Despite the complaints about not being backed in the transfer market, a true reflection on what the Portuguese manager said he wanted in each window, and what was delivered, suggests that he has tried to change the version of the facts.


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