New boss could get £10m package

Juan Mata played a part in all 38 league games last season but he faces an uncertain future with Jose Mourinho's imminent arrival. The new manager prefers substance rather than style.
Juan Mata played a part in all 38 league games last season but he faces an uncertain future with Jose Mourinho's imminent arrival. The new manager prefers substance rather than style.PHOTO: REUTERS

Mourinho's agent sorting out image rights; Portuguese favours solidity over flair players

LONDON • Manchester United were yesterday locked in a second day of talks with Jose Mourinho's agents, hammering out a deal to sweep the Portuguese into Old Trafford.

The former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager has agreed personal terms on a three-year deal with a likely annual salary of at least £10 million (S$20.3 million) but issues remain over image rights, Sky News television reported.

United sacked Louis van Gaal on Monday, two days after the club won the FA Cup with a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace. And United great Paul Scholes, an outspoken critic of van Gaal's time at the helm, backed Mourinho to bring attacking flair back to the club. The former midfielder believes that the incoming manager will have learnt from the Dutchman's mistakes.

United finished fifth in the Premier League last season under van Gaal, scoring 49 goals, their lowest tally since the 1989-90 campaign.

"I think Mourinho will have watched that closely and will have seen what happened," Scholes said of van Gaal's two-year tenure.

"He's a top manager, he's proven that before and hopefully he can do that again."

No Premier League manager has a better winning percentage than Mourinho (66 per cent), who won three league titles over two spells at Stamford Bridge.

One of those titles came after he sold Juan Mata to United in January 2014, and there has already been speculation that the Spaniard's Old Trafford future is now uncertain.

Mata was the only United player to feature in every league game last season and is always liable to chip in with an important goal, as he showed when scoring the equaliser last Saturday at Wembley.

But he does not fit the bill for a prototype Mourinho midfielder. He lacks defensive attributes because he has no pace, is weak in the air, cannot tackle and is heavily reliant on his left foot.

No matter how skilful they might be, Mourinho demands that all his midfield players track back when the team lose possession to form a solid defensive shield.

Daley Blind is another United player whose role will come under scrutiny. It seems inconceivable Mourinho would entertain the thought of deploying Blind in the same central defensive role he occupied under van Gaal.

Mourinho prefers hard-as-granite centre-halves like John Terry of Chelsea, Real Madrid's Pepe and former Stamford Bridge stalwart Ricardo Carvalho, players that rely on their defensive attributes rather than eye-catching skill at the back.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Memphis Depay, Ashley Young and Adnan Januzaj are other United players who may be understandably apprehensive about Mourinho's impending arrival.

The Old Trafford fans have never really taken Marouane Fellaini to their hearts but the Belgium international is powerful in the air and combative on the ground and may be someone the Portuguese can work with.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2016, with the headline 'New boss could get £10m package'. Print Edition | Subscribe