It’s tour time and to kick it all off Manchester United meet Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s old club Borussia Dortmund. Here we will be looking at three of the guys who would benefit massively from getting an extended run-out in order to show Jose Mourinho what they can bring to the side this season.
Before we continue, just so there’s no confusion, the three players chosen for this article have been selected from United’s official squad for the China tour.
The squad is as follows: De Gea, Romero, Johnstone, Bailly, Blind, Fosu-Mensah, Jones, McNair, Rojo, Shaw, Smalling, Tuanzebe, Valencia, Carrick, Herrera, Januzaj, Lingard, Mata, Memphis, Mkhitaryan, A. Pereira, Young, Keane, Rooney, Rashford
Now we’ve got that out the way (and hopefully prevented calls for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Anthony Martial) let’s begin the countdown.
After arguably becoming United’s best player towards the end of Louis van Gaal’s second season at Man United, Young has become an increasingly bit part player. I don’t know if I’m alone here but barring Young’s infamous stint upfront in the Tottenham shambles, I feel United’s No.18 has played pretty well in his few cameo roles, much better than Memphis for example.
Memphis was another who struggled for minutes last season but, European exploits aside, has often been below-par. With Martial yet to join up with the squad, it’s possible that Young and Memphis will battle it out to start on the left throughout the tour.
After Memphis didn’t make the most of his opportunity against Wigan, surely it’s Young’s chance to show he can provide effective back-up to Martial going into the new season. If he starts and fails however, I expect that to push him a lot closer to the exit door.
This may be a little harsh but it felt at times against Wigan that James Wilson was running around like a headless chicken in his quest to impress. A different manager may have found Wilson a dream to work with, yet Mourinho’s preference for big target men like Zlatan and Didier Drogba suggest that Keane’s physicality may present him with one last opportunity to show the boss that he can still succeed at United.
Keane’s stature indicates he would be ideal at holding up the ball whilst providing a strong focal point in attack and his beautifully chipped goal against Norwich reserves last season highlights his quality on the ball. I think at times during his United career, when he’s not been injured, Keane’s not been given a proper opportunity to show what he can do with an excellent support team behind him.
Given that not too long ago Harry Kane was struggling for goals whilst on loan at the likes of Leyton Orient and Leicester City, Keane’s recent fruitless spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Preston North End should not be viewed as indicators of his true ability.
After the game against Wigan, Jose Mourinho said: “Andreas [Pereira] has lots of talent. He has incredible vision and an incredible technique.”
It’s clear Mourinho believes in Pereira’s ability and Pereira should be given the opportunity to turn that belief into something more concrete in the shape of regular minutes on the pitch, not just a token name amongst the match day squad list.
At times last season, a sense of confusion was prevalent amongst some United fans as to why van Gaal overlooked the super talented Brazilian on multiple occasions, despite the first XI’s poor performances and lack of creativity.
It would be a great shame to see the wonder-kid exiled to the championship or another country on loan this season, however, if game time is not forthcoming, it would be completely understandable for Pereira to push for a move elsewhere.
Prior to signing a new contract in 2015, there had been rumours that Pereira may not re-sign and so, with the club allegedly desperate to avoid another Paul Pogba scenario, they pulled out all the stops to tie him up until June 2018 at the very least. Making Pereira a feature of the pre-season programme would help to prevent him from wondering whether or not the grass is greener at another club.