Jose Mourinho had informed on the eve of the Manchester Derby that there was only one player down with injury – Sergio Romero!
He apparently chose to overlook the Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini. The reality is that Fellaini had missed the previous couple of matches owing to a muscular ailment. Let’s delve into Fellaini and the future of some other United players going forward…
It’s not that the Red Devils supporters are keenly looking forward to Fellaini’s return. The only running he seems to be doing right now is down his contract with the club! Fellaini had evolved as a decent player for Manchester United, but because of spending more time in the physio’s room rather than on the pitch, the club seems to have no reason to improve on the offered September contract, which he rejected.
Regardless of how much value Mourinho puts on Fellaini, anyone who follows United on a regular basis would know that the 30-year old doesn’t stand much chance to get a squad berth anytime soon. It was well evident from the player cards that Mourinho had marked lately. The manager has said that Fellaini’s contract discussions are out of his control.
Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw didn’t make it to the match day squad either.
If you look up some of the best online bookmaking portals, you’d see that people are actually punting on the chances of these players at United. This is a particularly good indicator as it is one thing getting involved in the game as a fan but it’s something else when you put your hard earned money down on the success of your chosen team. Regardless of the fact that World Cup betting is at an all-time high right now and is expected to continue that way up until mid-July, these betting markets are also getting plenty of action. Even with limited events like the World Cup getting the spotlight, Premiership League games are of constant interest to serious football fans and that’s certainly no less true for those who put their money on the outcome of these games.
Jones, Blind, Darmian and Luke Shaw
Phil Jones has been exempt because of his solid form between August and December, and also the way he resurged in his last term. However, the others may not be spared.
Daley Blind seems to have regained fitness after a three-month layoff, but everyone knows that he hasn’t played a Premier League match since August 2017.
Luke Shaw on the other hand has been picked up for almost every domestic game up until the reverse Derby, irrespective of his love-hate relationship with Mourinho.
Matteo Darmian has been spotted on the field only in 2 league matches, and has been included in just 13 league squads. Although Darmian did travel with his teammates to Eastlands recently, but everyone expects him to play no better than the 19th man. He, combined with Shaw and Blind are unlikely to get a contract renewal next year, and would most likely move on during the summer.
It’s pretty strange that Darmian’s and Blind’s career at Manchester United would end this way, despite them being major physical forces in the Europa league final last year, when their old-school defending abilities frustrated the hell out of Ajax. They proved to be authentic Mourinho players that night!
However, considering the rumours that United are ready to beat Chelsea at signing up of Watford star striker Richarlison, they’d have no choice but to let some players go.
How things unfolded at The Etihad
Manchester United seemed to have a battle-hardened edge when they turned out at the at The Etihad for the Derby, where Andre Herrera excelled at his gamesmanship and Paul Pogba was seen confronting Fernandinho before giving Nicolas Otamendi, the part-timer a jib! It was all confrontational commotion that night which extended to Young getting past the police barricades to salute supporters and Rojo dismissing an overenthusiastic steward.
Luke Shaw had become Mourinho’s favourite after he continued playing even with a cramp during the extra time against Anderlecht last year. Although everyone says that he’s been working hard, his 45 minutes against Brighton last month, when a left-back like Rojo made the bench ahead of him, says out loud that the times they are a changing!