To say that this has not been a good season so far at Old Trafford would be something of an understatement. Fans are restless, the manager’s job is under threat and their present brand of football looks increasingly unlikely to see them return to the Champions League, from which they were unceremoniously dumped out in the group stages before Christmas.
This summer will be one of great upheaval and turmoil in Manchester. Local rivals, City, have already announced that they will be upgrading their manager from the likeable and professional Manuel Pellegrini to world-beater, Pep Guardiola – and now, having missed out on the chance to lure the charismatic Spaniard, it looks like United will be forced to buy a ticket on the Mourinho express.
Whether this proves to be an inspired choice, or just another gut reaction quick-fix from the Old Trafford hierarchy remains to be seen, but perhaps the most troubling issue will be evident on the pitch when England kick off their Euro 2016 campaign.
It is predicted that just three Manchester United players will take up places in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad for the summer tournament in France – and none of these are necessarily automatic starters. Wayne Rooney is captain and the the nation’s all-time leading goalscorer, but with just 7 Premier League goals to his name so far this season, there are many people out there who would be far happier seeing either Jamie Vardy (19 goals) or Harry Kane (16 goals) lead the line for the Three Lions.
And with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling the only other two members of Louis van Gaal’s squad that might play a part in England’s first tournament win since 1966, the days of Old Trafford supplying the bulk of the national side are clearly over.
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Wayne Rooney has spoken this week to say that Louis van Gaal is not to blame for the current issues at Manchester United, and much credit must go to him for shouldering the responsibility in what has been a poor season for him personally – but something tells me that, at the age of thirty, he will be less forgiving should the Red Devils’ lack of attacking intent and creativity cost him a place at a tournament that would surely be his last opportunity to win silverware with his national side.