Is Mouriniho the new Captain Ahab?
How far will our new boss go in search of his ultimate prize? By Philip Morrissey
When speaking at his first press conference, Jose Mouriniho set out his stall quite clearly. He was looking to make around four signings in the transfer window and he stated his preference for players that are specialist to a certain position, rather than a lot of players that can multi-task. Two players were being assigned to each position and there would be some that fill in where needed. So far, so good.
He seemed to be focused on the problems in the squad and what had to be done to solve it. Zlatan Ibrahimović seemed to be a done deal from the very moment that he decided to finish the French leg of his trans-European jaunt, Eric Bailly was perhaps slightly more under the radar but impressed when his performances for Villarreal were seen and many were impressed when Mkhitayran arrived from Dortmund bringing pace and decisiveness. So that leaves one more. And here lies the problem.
Since Paul Pogba left under a cloud to Juventus on a free transfer in 2012, fans have wondered what might have been. Frustrated by a lack of playing time at the club, and under advisement from his agent, he packed his bags and headed off to Italy. There is no guarantee that he would have been the player that he has become but fans are fond of speculation. Since the Euros, his name started getting linked heavily to the club. At first many ignored it believing that he wanted to join Real Madrid, but it has not gone since then. Of course fans are well used to having star players being linked to the club, only for it to come to naught, but it seems that there is more to this.
The question is whether the club and manager are going too far in the chase for one player? Reports vary in terms of the size of the deal but it is being put at anything up to £110 M. And a substantial pay day also for his agent as well no doubt. Has the need to make a statement by making a marquee signing clouded the judgement of both manager and club? And if not, what alternatives did they have on board? His compatriot Blasé Matuidi from PSG, William Carvalho from Sporting Lisbon and Nemenja Matic from Chelsea have been mentioned in passing. All of whom have slightly different playing styles to Pogba but at nearly a quarter of the cost.
Pogba is undoubtedly an extremely talented player and with the promise of greater things to come. When allowed play his natural game, he could grace most midfields in the world. And of course, United should feel that they can compete for the signings of these type of players. There is the feeling that chasing this transfer to the very end, no matter what the terms and conditions are, could be damaging for the club.