Is Manchester United’s Exodus Finally On The horizon?7 min read
Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson retired from football management at the end of the 2012/13 season, Manchester United fans have been expecting an exodus of sorts to occur. Players, who are quite obviously not good enough, however, have remained put in the following years post-Ferguson and have been integral in part of the rot at the club. With a new direction that the club look set to go in, this could be the start of a very important process.
As Ferguson left, a certain David Gill, who handled practically everything behind the scenes, opted to move on to pastures new in the same summer. With two club officials knowing so much about the club and being pillar of that establishment for so many years, it was no real surprise to see Man United struggled off the pitch with the lack of competent structure in place.
David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and José Mourinho all had their troubles with the Manchester United board and were on the wrong end of transfer business. Moyes managed to only bring in Marouane Fellaini, who has remarkably stayed throughout the constant changing of the guard, while LvG made some wrong decisions over certain personnel. Mourinho, on the other hand, demanded to bring in a centre back last summer, but was denied by Ed Woodward, the club’s executive vice-chairman.
With no routine or real longevity, perhaps it was difficult for Moyes and LvG to properly shape their team in a shorter period of time. For Mourinho, however, there can be little excuses, given he had chances to place players on the market but refused.
8 years of Phil Jones
One player in particular was Phil Jones, who has been at the club since 2011 after joining from Blackburn Rovers. Once hailed as the future of Manchester United’s defence, a long list of injuries, mistakes and inconsistencies have caused the fans to all but give up on the Englishman. Out of the national side and rarely stringing five games together, Jones has fallen down the pecking order in recent years and is, quite clearly, not good enough to be playing for the Red Devils.
The 26-year-old has not developed into the defender that Manchester United initially thought and is certainly not a player that they would be looking at if he was elsewhere. Jones’ limited ball-playing abilities and regularity in panicking when one-on-one with an attacker should have been enough for the management to understand that his future at the club is coming to an end. But due to his enormous wages for a player of his calibre, it is no real surprise to still see him at the club.
There are a number of other squad players – Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo – that can all be considered surplus to requirements come the end of the season. Staging a mass exodus of such will rustle some feathers within Manchester United and it is unlikely to occur, but these players are simply not good enough to be playing as regularly as they have been.
Darmian, Valencia and Rojo could be on their way out
Darmian, who is 4/1 to sign with any Italian club before February 2 with BetVictor, has been on the transfer list for a number of years now. The Italian has never truly adjusted to the Premier League and has fallen out of favour under two different managers. He does not possess the speed needed at right back nor the creativity and so is currently playing as a right-sided centre back under Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
Valencia is another full back that had lost his way under Mourinho. While he might stage a comeback under the Norwegian boss before the end of the season, Diogo Dalot’s emergence has so far been impressive and the club are likely to move forward in nurturing the young Portuguese star into becoming their first choice right back from next season. The club have an option to extend the Ecuador international’s contract for a further year until 2020, but reports suggest that he might be on his way out at the end of the season on a free transfer – something that will be approved by from the fans.
Remarkably, Rojo has only played in nine Premier League games since the start of the 2017/18 season. Such is his horrid injury record, the Argentina international has barely featured under Mourinho and is once again injured coming into 2019. It is possible that the former Sporting CP defender will be sold this summer, even after agreeing a new contract just 11 months ago.
If Manchester United have learnt anything over the year in a post-Ferguson world, it’s that sentiment rarely gets you anywhere. The club have to be ruthless from now on in determining who is and isn’t good enough and make efficient decisions. It’s time for the Red Devils to move on from their mistakes and implement a structure that is going to serve them best in the long run.