Jose Mourinho began his Manchester United tenure with a resounding 3-1 win over Bournemouth on Sunday. Blockbuster signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic opened his account with a thumping winner late in the second half. After three below power season, United have brought in the serial winner, Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese has done superbly well this transfer window bringing in the likes of Ibrahimovic, Bailly, Mkhitaryan and latest world record signing Paul Pogba.
Paul Pogba is expected to make his debut this week against Southampton after serving out his suspension in the last match. The most urgent requirements this summer were quality attacking players, who can make United lethal going forward, just like how they were under Sir Alex Ferguson and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan all brought in to help bolster the attack, attention is now turning to the other end of the pitch.
Jose is open to upgrading his squad if the current player becomes available in the market. He has already said that there will be some departures so that space opens up for new arrivals.
Eric Bailly has been superb this summer since moving from Spain, however, he is part of a relatively young defense line at Old Trafford. United’s four senior defenders are all aged 26 or below, and though they were solid under Louis Van Gaal, there is feeling that they need a senior pro to marshall them through the campaign, especially due to the fact that all of United’s immediate rivals have also straightened significantly up front this transfer window. This is where Jose Fonte comes in.
Players like Leonardo Bonucci have also been linked with a move to United, however, recent reports suggest that it might be Fonte who might take the plunge finally. Fonte was part of the Portuguese national team that won the recently concluded European Championship. Although not selected in the group stages, Fonte soon formed a solid partnership with Pepe in the knockout rounds. His performance was vital in shutting other teams out. The defender has made more than 240 appearances for the Saints, something which will definitely give him an advantage over the likes of Bailly and Blind.
The Portuguese made a total of 37 appearances for Southampton last season. His height and strong physique gives him an advantage in the air. He successfully won 68% of aerial duels last season in comparison to Smalling’s 64%. There isn’t much to choose between the two when it comes to pass completion rate. The English international trails the Portuguese counterpart by 2% at 82%. However, when it comes to moving on the ground trying to protect his goal, Smalling is way ahead of Fonte with 97 interceptions last season to his 80.
With Bailly, Smalling, Fonte and Blind all available to play, Mourinho might implement a rotational policy with other two players covering for the first team starters. Fonte will be a huge addition in terms of experience to the United back-line. However, he might have to settle for a place on the bench until he gets his opportunity in a match.