Manchester United 2016-17 preview: who plays where under Mourinho?


Since the arrival of José Mourinho at Old Trafford, along with a couple of new signings and the suggestion that Paul Pogba is on his way too, Manchester United have seen their odds cut drastically by bookmakers to win the 2016-17 Premier League title, now second favourites behind Manchester City.

You can use Android betting apps on your phone to find Manchester United’s latest odds.  It may be worth checking them out as soon as you can as the seemingly imminent arrival of Paul Pogba may shorten their odds further.

Mourinho has already brought in Eric Bailly at centre-back from Villarreal to strengthen a defence that Louis van Gaal chopped and changed game after game last season, mainly because of injuries.

It’s questionable whether the 22-year-old will solve all their problems at the back but Mourinho has built several of his teams around a strong defence in the past.  He knows what he’s doing which makes us think he really rates the likes of Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw and Matteo Darmian.  Either that, or he’s leaving it close to the start of the season to upgrade further defensively.

Antonio Valencia has been starting at right-back pre-season suggesting Mourinho has faith in the Ecuadorian, or that he prefers him over the likes of Paddy McNair and Timothy Fosu-Mensah at least.

Paul Pogba’s arrival at Old Trafford will, or would, be a serious upgrade in the centre of midfield.  Bastian Schweinsteiger is on his way out and I’ve never been a fan of Marouane Fellaini as a defensive midfielder.  Pogba offers a lot of power, height and quickness in that midfield.  Granted, he still needs to work on his tackling but he does like to get stuck in.  He also turns defensive situations into attacks.  Mourinho has Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Daley Blind and Morgan Schneiderlin as other options here.

Down the wings, don’t be surprised if Mourinho can get the best out of Memphis Depay on the left.  The Dutch international received a lot of criticism last season which wasn’t all his own doing.  Louis van Gaal couldn’t even get much out of Ángel Di María down there so let’s put a chunk of the blame on the manager’s tactics rather than the individual.

Anthony Martial is another option down the left as it appears he has too much competition to be a starting striker this season.  The arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimović gives Mourinho a further option in attack, along with Wayne Rooney and Marcus Rashford.  Memphis can play this position also.

It will be interesting to see where Henrikh Mkhitaryan is deployed – the Armenian played all three attacking midfield positions behind the striker at Borussia Dortmund last season.  A very good goalscoring threat from the middle and right wings mainly – both positions he’s played in pre-season with Manchester United too.

The arrival from Germany should get the nod ahead of Juan Mata who Mourinho previously sold to Manchester United as Chelsea manager.  However, the Spaniard is still at the club and perhaps is in the manager’s plans this season.  Will he be the number 10 and Mkhitaryan on the right?  Wayne Rooney is a further option in the number 10, as are Herrera and Fellaini.

Sunday’s FA Community Shield should give us some idea of the positions José Mourinho will use his players in, but don’t be surprised if the game at Wembley is used as a final warm-up after a short pre-season.

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