Former England manager Glenn Hoddle believes that Jose Mourinho is building a physically imposing side capable of challenging for the Premier League title next season.
The Portuguese introduced Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to provide some muscle to United’s line-up during his first summer at Old Trafford.
He has added the burgeoning trio of Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic to the ranks in his second summer.
And Hoddle, writing in his column for the Daily Mail, noted that Mourinho, through placing emphasis on stature and bulk, is building something promising at Old Trafford.
“Nemanja Matic is 6ft 4in, Romelu Lukaku is 6ft 3in, Victor Lindelof is 6ft 1in. It may not be what Manchester United fans have been traditionally used to, it may be a step away from the panache and flair on which they have been brought up, but Jose Mourinho is building something,” he wrote.
It looks almost like a machine, a team of strong, physical, battle-hardened players to get him through the winter. And that may be enough to get United back in the game to challenge for the title.
“What Mourinho is constructing …something more like his first Chelsea team of 2004-05. Then he had Petr Cech, Ricardo Carvalho, Frank Lampard, Claude Makelele, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Didier Drogba down the spine of his team.
“Don’t get me wrong, they were capable of some fine, skillful football. The finesse came from Damien Duff and Arjen Robben. But they also overpowered and overwhelmed opponents.”
Mourinho inherited a side last year stripped of even an iota of identity following a tumultuous period under Louis van Gaal. The first task, therefore, was to build a platform from which a new kind of United side would emerge, and the squad at his disposal after two transfer windows now has an indelible mark of Mourinho painted all over it.
The fact that, along with making these signings, he insisted on keeping Marouane Fellaini and alluded to keeping Ibrahimovic upon his return from injury points towards an unmistakably Mourinho-esque project being forged, replete with hardened, indefatigable, stronger warriors capable of unattractively bludgeoning opponents into the ground.
This is not, as Hoddle notes, an approach United fans are used to, but nobody can argue with the success brought by Mourinho’s constant emphasis on building a style tall in stature in both a physical and mental sense.