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Manchester United scout Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

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Lazio’s midfielder could be the next in line to disappoint at Old Trafford.

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SS Lazio v AS Roma - Serie A
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

The Telegraph say that at their best Manchester United haven’t come close to Manchester City. That’s true. City reached much more impressive heights than Jose Mourinho’s team was able to match, but that’s not the point. The point is that United needed to be only slightly better to make sure they were still in touch. You don’t have to be better than your opponents head to head you just have to get more points from the rest of the fixtures. Yesterday’s result showed that United can’t beat the absolute rot that makes up the Premier League from eighth down, and spent too long being mediocre themselves.

Nemanja Vidic was on television yesterday, happily criticising other players for their failures. He also had to sit through United’s pitiful defeat to West Brom yesterday evening, too. Vidic was far from perfect but along with Rio Ferdinand he made a brilliant defensive partnership, something which Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling look incapable of matching, or even getting close to.

United haven’t given up on next season - yet. They sent scouts to watch young Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who could replace Michael Carrick and/or Marouane Fellaini. Carrick will be retiring, and Fellaini is almost certain to leave on a free transfer. If he is capable of tracking runners he will be a step up on Carrick, and if he is capable of not pointlessly kicking opponents in his own penalty box, he’ll also have the edge on Fellaini.

Mourinho understandably criticised the attitude of United’s players after their wan, dull performance against West Brom. But at some point, perhaps after he’s had two full seasons of this, he’s going to have to explain why things like this keep happening. The players aren’t good enough in many respects, but the attitude of the team is his responsibility. So far, he gets 5/10 on that, and perhaps six more months before someone else merits a chance.