Mourinho’s confidence fell short
It was 5th August when Jose Mourinho admitted his team would face a ‘difficult season’ if they did not sign at least one more player. At the time, he was confident they would recruit a new central defender. However, evidently- it did not happen.
Despite late excitement over a move for Uruguay’s Diego Godin, which, it subsequently transpired, had fizzled out earlier in the week virtually as soon as it had been made, Mourinho’s squad remains as it was on 4 July when Lee Grant arrived from Stoke as United’s third-choice keeper.
Thirty-six hours before the 2018-19 Premier League was set to begin – United welcome Leicester to Old Trafford on Friday night – Mourinho was asked if he had the “tools to compete” with Manchester City and Liverpool.
“I know the words you want me to say,” he said. “I think by the end of November, December you won’t need words, you will see by then which teams are candidates to win the Premier League.”
Reality is Manchester United have the money to do big deals, but the ‘right’ man never materialised. As the BBC reported; over the course of a lengthy meeting between United and Real Madrid top brass in Miami last month, Raphael Varane never became a discussion topic because it was obvious the Champions League winners would not have sold him.
Talks about Maguire never progressed beyond the outline stage because, with no need to sell and secure in the knowledge the England man had four years left on his contract, Leicester were pushing the price upwards, to the level Liverpool paid for Virgil van Dijk.
For a man with no Champions League experience and still relatively new to the Premier League, United did not think entering the market at that level was wise.
As one club source said: “We ended up in a situation where if we had done a deal, we would have been swapping our fifth best central defender for another fifth best central defender.”
Under the circumstances, United concluded there was no point.