Since the arrival of José Mourinho at Manchester United, both the club and fans have been on a high. Now, the manager’s reported centre back plans for the new season are giving fans their first cause to question his sanity.
United were uncharacteristically fragile in defence last season, particularly at set pieces. While they have David de Gea, their player of the year yet again, to save them, the back line conceded far too many goals from seemingly defendable situations last term.
Now sources have claimed, according to the Guardian, that Mourinho is planning to put his faith in a centre back pairing of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, despite having shelled out £30 million on centre back Eric Bailly this summer.
Jones has featured only sparingly in recent seasons due to injury and also an apparent slump in form. Even under Louis van Gaal, the former Blackburn Rovers defender was a reduced to cameo appearances with the reserves.
Fans have, as expected, reacted with a sense of disbelief and confusion at Mourinho’s decision to put Jones ahead of Bailly and have taken to social media to voice their surprise.
We're going to win the league with Jones and Smalling as first choice CB's under Jose. What a time to be alive reds.
— James Stretford (@Jamesstretford) July 15, 2016
Smalling and Jones first choice Centre back pairing, Until Jones gets injured on the first day of the season. ?
— Thomas (@ManLikeMata) July 15, 2016
Hahahha we won't win the Premier League with Jones-Smalling nervermind Champions League/Europa
— Darragh (@DarraghMUFC) July 15, 2016
Man utd done pretty good business but their defence still has darmian. smalling, rojo and jones…all crap!..hehe
— Bos_ (@Bos_kidx) July 6, 2016
Hope we sign another CB. Mourinho won't use blind as one. Smalling and Jones keep getting injured in ridiculous ways. Rojo not too sure.
— Shibani (@shibani_mufc) July 6, 2016
Some fans however are more optimistic.
If Jones can stay fit he can be a better CB than Smalling.
— RS (@MartialAce) July 15, 2016
Don't know why our fans are turning on Jones. If he stays fit, which is a very big IF, he can be a better CB than smalling
— Mkhinator (@Juanderooney) July 15, 2016
@ManUtdUpdates_ I think people should give Jones a chance. He could improve under Jose. Smalling was a lost cause also just over a year ago
— Darragh B O' Donovan (@Dazzmondo95) July 15, 2016
Whatever Mourinho’s plans are for United’s defensive line next season, ideally fans would want to see all options available and in top form.
Perhaps they need to remember that the Special One has a track record for success in defence and give his plans a chance before completely losing their minds.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena