This season was something of a holding pattern for Timothy Fosu-Mensah. The teenage
center-back right-back defensive midfielder utility man emerged as a fascinating option for the first team under Louis van Gaal. With his versatility and big personality - not to mention his considerable pace and strength - it was easy to see why he appealed immediately to Mourinho as one of the youngsters would would be joining the senior squad. Despite being involved early on though, Timbo actually played fewer minutes this season than last, and only made one more start than he did the previous year.
Fosu-Mensah made eleven appearances in all competitions this season, with just a solitary start in each of the four competitions in which United took part. Of his seven appearances off the bench, three of those were in the 90th minute or later. The Dutchman seemed to be Mourinho’s favorite time-wasting substitution.
While his brief appearances at both right-back and in central midfield have been encouraging, it’s hard to tell exactly what United have on their hands. Fosu-Mensah came through the ranks first in the middle of defense, and then in midfield, but his willingness to get forward from the flank and his apparent keenness on following instructions may make him an easy fit as Antonio Valencia’s understudy next year.
It’s a shame that Mourinho was reluctant to give Fosu-Mensah more time on the pitch in midfield, as he has shown flashes of enough technical ability to be able to play there. Especially considering United’s lack of depth in that area this past season.
An ill-timed shoulder injury may have cost him a few more appearances in the throwaway league fixtures towards the end of the season, but a place on the bench for the Europa League final is at least a sign that Mourinho rates the young man.
José Mourinho approval rating: An animated order to go warm up on the sidelines, followed several minutes later by a pat on the back and instructions to sit back down.