Test drive is over – Jose Mourinho must deliver next season

The dust has settled a bit since the disappointment of the FA Cup Final defeat to Chelsea. In truth, the season concluded with somewhat of a whimper; but it is not all doom and gloom. You can dress it up anyway you like, but the reality is that Manchester United have improved this season under Mourinho.

The statistics are there to be seen. United’s League position is the highest in the post-Ferguson era. Moreover, their win percentage this season of 65% is highest since the 2012/13 campaign. Similarly, United had the second best defence in the league this season: conceding just 28 goals, which is a further improvement from the Louis van Gaal and David Moyes days. Having said that, It is clear that Mourinho has much work to do to appease the United faithful & ensure that the Reds do not fall further behind their bitter rivals from across town.

There is no doubt that this team has all the firepower to be a frightening prospect going forward. Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba: these guys are no slouches.

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The issue with United for most of the season is the lack of intensity in the final third of the pitch. In order for United to overcome City next season, José needs to get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet.

Individually, there is no denying that each of those players has the potential to be devastating going forward. However, they always look like they have another gear to go and that is the frustrating thing watching on as a United supporter. Mourinho needs to get the best out of the talent at his disposal and get them firing collectively.
I think most of us would agree that there so much more to come from the likes of Pogba and Sanchez. Ultimately, the buck stops with Mourinho. Next season, there can be no more excuses. The fans demand a genuine title challenge as the attacking options United boast are as good as any in the league.

One of the most pressing concerns from this season is the lack of a settled partnership at the heart of our defence. In my opinion, it is a bit of an issue that it still seems as if Mourinho does not know his best pairing. There has been too much chopping and changing between Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof which only causes uncertainty.

United have been at their most successful with a settled centre back pairing: Vidic and Ferdinand, Stam and Johnson, Bruce and Pallister. Personally, I feel it is essential that we bring in a top class centre back to partner Eric Bailly next season.

There can be no more room for sentiment. Jones and Smalling have had several chances and continue to prove that there are not the answer if we are to genuinely challenge for the top prizes. Moreover, it is imperative that we sign a specialist left back this summer. It is pretty apparent that for whatever reason, José does not fancy Luke Shaw.

Ashley Young has been a great servant, and will continue to be an important player to have around the club. His return to form this season has been inspired and his inclusion in the England squad for the upcoming World Cup is fully merited. Having said that, he is a winger by trade. Is he the answer long-term?

I am already looking forward to the new season and seeing what unfolds. It is pretty clear that there will be both players joining and leaving the club in the coming weeks. With that in mind, it is vital Mourinho and Woodward get the signings right. This transfer window, in my opinion, could well define the Mourinho reign at United.

While Reds will accept a pragmatic approach as long as the team is successful, they will not accept another campaign with no silverware or another season with a pain in their neck looking up at Manchester City.

José Mourinho has a Ferrari, but at times has driven it like a Fiat Punto. The test drive is over.

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