Jose Mourinho has insisted that he will build a squad capable of challenging for the Premier League title over the summer.
The Portuguese quickly endeared himself to supporters soon after arriving in June 2016 by securing the services of Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan prior to pre-season before breaking the world transfer record to bring Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford in August.
Manchester United have struggled in the Premier League this season, inundated by a malaise in front of goal against resolute but very much inferior teams that leaves them in sixth spot, but will consider this season a success if they win the Europa League final on Wednesday.
And Mourinho, speaking ahead of his side’s final league game of the season against Crystal Palace, noted that he will work towards making more crucial acquisitions over the summer.
“This season we are not close to winning the league. There are clubs with more stability than us, better squads, more time to work,” he admitted.
“I cannot say that but I’m pretty sure that from a mental and a tactical point of view, we have had a very good evolution.
“If, in the next transfer window, we manage to be successful, I think we can [challenge for the title].
“The one that I really enjoy doing is the transition from the first to the second season because I know what I do, I know what I don’t do.
“There is work to be done. The good thing is the club knows, the board knows, I know and we are together on this process.
“It was not the kind of club and team where you were ready to arrive and to go with everything and go direct to the big titles.”
It is always worth noting that the current squad at Mourinho’s disposal comes nowhere near the desired group he will want to move forward with.
Attacking midfield, for one thing, has had an unmistakably makeshift semblance, always changing and suffering criticism following each galling home draw for lacking even an iota of composure in front of goal. Rumours of a potential move to Old Trafford for James Rodriguez suggest Mourinho is already looking to address this particular issue.
Another crucial area, you sense, comes in the centre of midfield. The 54-year-old’s reluctance to use either Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger this season has led to Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick having to share the load of 64 games this year.
And with the latter’s career coming to a close, Mourinho will know that a strong midfield core will be crucial ahead of another season of fighting on both the domestic and continental front.