Manchester United were without Paul Pogba for the Manchester derby yesterday as the French playmaker was forced to miss the match with an injury.
Some observers may feel the 3-1 defeat may have turned out differently with Pogba on the field. But Manchester City are just so far ahead of the Reds right now; that argument feels like clutching at straws.
And Jose Mourinho spent £52m on another dynamic central midfielder in the summer, Fred, but he was ignored. The Portuguese will likely ask for more money in the January window, but there’s a reason why Ed Woodward has stopped trusting his manager in the market…
What must Fred be thinking?
Manchester United have needed another central midfield player for quite some time now, and have the transfer budget and global pull to attract most of the world’s elite footballers.
Mourinho’s new assistant manager is Michael Carrick, a man who might know a thing or two about what it takes to play in central midfield for Manchester United.
The club were linked with Fred for quite some time before they eventually signed him so it is fair to assume he was scouted fairly extensively; Mourinho got another expensive recruit who was right at the top of his shopping list.
So when Pogba dropped out of the side to face City, it would be fair to imagine Mourinho would turn to his costly summer recruit to deputise.
Instead, he reverted to type and went for the ponderous Marouane Fellaini next to the similarly pedestrian Nemanja Matic; which left United utterly bereft of midfield energy against City’s dynamic midfield magicians.
Why would Woodward trust Mourinho with more money?
So if Mourinho is planning to ask his paymasters for further investment to improve the standard of a side that is painfully far behind their local rivals, Woodward would be more than entitled to ask what the consequences of his already huge investment has been.
Fred isn’t even first reserve when Pogba is out and fellow summer arrival Diogo Dalot has barely been seen this season.
The aforementioned Matic was signed at great expense as a proven player that Mourinho knows so well but he has been utterly abject this season, which continued yesterday. He showed a staggering lack of commitment and quality to completely ignore Ilkay Gundogan in the box for City’s third.
Mourinho landed Romelu Lukaku for £75m but he is nowhere near good enough. He’s fallen out with Eric Bailly, who is United’s most talented centre-back.
Alexis Sanchez has been an overpriced transfer bust, which came about after Mourinho lost faith in Henrikh Mkhitaryan within 18 months.
His transfer record is an abomination, especially given the amount of money that he has spent and Fred is just the latest example.