José Mourinho has brought high level play and league success back to Manchester United. The 2017/2018 league campaign has been the most successful league campaign Manchester United has had since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. Set to finish second in league play this season, United fans finally have confidence in the team’s ability to regrow and become a European superpower once again.
However, it has not been all good for Mourinho this term. United have been inconsistent in their play and this has left the manager seeking to bring in a more consistent bunch of players with another bunch of players set to leave Old Trafford.
With this in mind, there have been some worrying reports that some of United’s young and up and coming players may be leaving United, whether it be due to lack of playing time or a feud with José Mourinho. While some players rumored to leave — like Chris Smalling — leave United fans either unaffected or even joyful, while others — like Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, and Marcus Rashford — make United fans worried about the future of the club while Mourinho is in charge. With recent arrivals of more experienced players getting the bulk of the playing time, like Alexis Sánchez and Nemanja Matić, it seems that José is looking for finished products to bring United glory now rather than invest in the future. Considering this reality, that Mourinho is trading United’s future success for present success, the question United fans have now is, are a couple years of success worth trading the high potential that the younger players could bring to United for years to come?
In my opinion, the answer to that question is absolutely not. Even entertaining the idea of selling the likes of Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, and Marcus Rashford makes me want to cringe. Now, don’t get me wrong, I would like to see United win the Premier League again just as much as the next fan, but I would rather spend another year or two placing in the top four while developing the young talent Manchester United has in their deck than to trade them for immediate success.
I also understand, however, that there has to be a balance. I am not arguing that United only invest in the young players and snub the older guys. I think that the arrival of Nemanja Matić has been revolutionary for Manchester United and I also think that Alexis Sánchez will find his grounding and also become a key player in the organization. Both are quality players that make United immediately better. However, Mourinho must find the balance of developing the young talent that United has while also bringing in talent that can help United win now.
This dynamic might be hard for United right now because traditional Mourinho style is not to develop the youth. Mourinho, through and through, is a finished product manager. However, I think that he is learning how to place faith in the younger players more than in the past. Rashford has played more games than any other player since Mourinho arrived and, before Alexis’ arrival, Martial was playing a significant amount of time on the left. Developing young players like Martial, Rashford, Pogba, and even the likes of Jesse Lingard needs to become a regular thing for Mourinho. Selling United’s future simply because Mourinho cannot get the best out of them now would be a dire mistake and José needs to learn how to function in an organization that prioritizes their youth.