Jose Mourinho returns to Old Trafford with Tottenham on Sunday and could be forgiven for raising a wry smile at a situation he knows only too well.
Manchester United are once again in the throes of a transfer scramble at the end of a window with just three days to go until Monday’s deadline.
Mourinho’s frustration at the board two years ago contributed to a toxic atmosphere before his sacking, and he will have taken satisfaction in Spurs beating his old club to the signings of Gareth Bale and Sergio Reguilon from Real Madrid.
Jose Mourinho denies that his side’s trip to Old Trafford on Sunday is a revenge mission.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a very different animal but even he is doing well to hide his concern after seeing United’s transfer business limited so far to £40million for Donny van de Beek from Ajax. They remain in talks over Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and a number of other alternatives on the right-wing, as well as Porto left-back Alex Telles.
It is not a situation Solskjaer could have envisaged when he stated in April that United could use their wealth to ‘exploit’ the transfer market while other clubs struggled through the pandemic.
The United manager admitted on Friday it was the wrong choice of word and that United have been hit just as hard as everyone else by the Covid crisis.
‘I think my wording in lockdown, “exploit”, was a bad one,’ he said. ‘I didn’t mean it in that respect, I meant there might be players who have to move because of the situation.
‘At the moment there haven’t been those situations. We’ve lost loads of money, as the other clubs have as well.’
Mourinho on Friday night signed Brazilian striker Carlos Vinicius on loan from Benfica and still wants a central defender.
Vinicius increases Tottenham’s squad to 27 outfield players and Mourinho believes the club must clear out some of those on the fringes. They are desperate to shift Danny Rose and Cameron Carter-Vickers. Tanguy Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon, Jack Clarke, Juan Foyth and Serge Aurier are also available.
‘The transfer window is in two directions,’ said Mourinho. ‘For sure, we are not going to keep every player in the squad over normal numbers.
‘I like to work normally with a squad of 22 players plus the keepers, and we are not going to be far from that number.
‘It’s impossible to keep everybody happy when you have so many players.’