Updated: Sunday, 2nd August 2020 @ 6:21pm

Comment: Is Mourinho trying to turn Manchester United into his all-conquering Inter Milan side?

Comment: Is Mourinho trying to turn Manchester United into his all-conquering Inter Milan side?

| By Jeremy Dunn

Since arriving at Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho has been building a team with a clear endgame in sight.

Taking his signings over the past two seasons into account, it seems the Portuguese is setting up a team that could very much be based on his Inter Milan treble winning side of 2009/10.

Here’s how Manchester United’s team at the end of the summer transfer window could look in comparison to the Inter team of 2009/10.

In goal United have David De Gea who, despite the never-ending interest from Real Madrid, is still one of the top three keepers in the league if not the world.

Sergio Romero is a high calibre backup but not the standard that De Gea has reached.

The Spaniard fits the style and ability that Julio Cesar had with Inter, who in the same year as the treble helped a poor Brazil team reach the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals only to be knocked out by finalists Netherlands.

With defensive solidity a stable of Mourinho’s tactics, a world class goalkeeper is essential for his team and De Gea will, should he remain at United this year, potentially surpass Cesar’s performances and become instrumental to United this year.

Antonio Valencia’s style of play as roaming right wing back, who charges up the right side of the field to provide runs and assists for the forwards, is a near carbon copy of how Brazilian right back Maicon played for the Portugese.

As with Valencia, Mourinho’s insistence on the Brazilian right back being able to get up and down the pitch was integral to the offensive aspect of the team that scored the most goals of any club in Serie A that season with 74.

Valencia is both a senior leader in the team and a valuable attacking asset.

In two straight seasons, United have signed a centre back costing over £30 million.

Eric Bailly impressed during his first campaign in England and a partnership of him and new signing Victor Lindelof might provide Mourinho with the perfect defensive pairing.

QUICK: New signing Victor Lindelof should slot straight in 

Both defenders are in the early twenties and have superb defensive reading of the game. They are both fine athletes; surprisingly quick for centre backs, both 6’2 in height and strong meaning they offer ideal defence for a variety of attackers.

Mourinho will hope the pair can become the base this defence as Samuel and Lucio were at Inter. United fans will be hoping though that the pair can become Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic of the coming generation. 

Left back presents an issue when matching the two squads up. At Inter, various different options were tried here, but in the end it was club captain and former midfielder, Javier Zanetti who played in this position the most.

Zanetti could play in several positions and was someone Mourinho could use when changing formation to neutralise specific threats.

Of all United’s defensive options, Daley Blind best fits this mould due to his focus on defending rather than attacking as Maicon and Valencia do as well as his flexibility and ability to play comfortably in a variety of positions.

Luke Shaw is too attacking minded for this set up and Marcos Rojo to limited in where he can be played. Matteo Darmian has the defensive instincts but lacks Blind’s constituency.

CONSISTENCY: Daley Blind is most suited to the 'Zanetti' role Mourinho wants

Overall, Blind ticks most of the boxes for the Zanetti role.

The with Inter’s centre midfield, Esteban Cambiasso and Dejan Stankovic were the two defensive midfielders.

Cambiasso was able to drift to the right back role when Maicon attacked to keep the four at the back and was also an exceptional deep lying playmaker.

Due to United lacking such a player, Mourinho is expected to sign either Nemanja Matic, Eric Dier or Fabinho to fill the role as all three are defensive stalwarts who have played at right back during their careers and have outstanding defensive reading of the game.

The ball playing skill of the three is good enough for the role but far less to Cambiasso’s quality.

For Stankovic’s equivalent, Ander Herrera showed last season that he is the perfect man for the job. Herrera has developed into a complete midfielder with great composure on the ball, the ability to get forward, good defensive instincts to back track effectively and is able to pick out key passes.

All of these are qualities that Stankovic displayed and Herrera has the capacity to surpass what Serbian.

Further forward in midfield, Inter had Wesley Sneijder pulling the strings as an advanced midfielder and key man.

For United, whilst Juan Mata is an accomplished playmaker, Mourinho does not seem keen to play him in this role and Paul Pogba could indeed find his place in this position.

Last season, 70% of Pogba’s assists were to Zlatan Ibrahimović and already on United’s pre-season he has demonstrated both on and off the pitch the chemistry required to for a deadly link with Romelu Lukaku.

CHANCES: Mourinho will want Paul Pogba to unlock defences for United

This link up play between creator and striker mirrors how Sneijder played at Inter and as shown with Juventus and France, Pogba is most effective when going forward and can score from set pieces, long range and tight angles like a top class forward. Being forced to play as a box-to-box midfielder last season means we haven’t seen the best of him yet.

United for years tried and failed to sign Sneijder but in Pogba, they have a player who is both physically stronger and has the potential to surpass him technically.

Out wide, Mourinho played Samuel Eto’o and Goran Pandev for Inter.

The pair are considered defensive wingers for their ability to both move forward and join the attack, but also to drop deep and help the team see out close games. On the right, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the perfect defensive winger and provider, having finally started to adapted to the Premier League and Mourinho’s system.

He is more athletic than Mata and has Spaniard’s passing range. For the left United’s move for Ivan Perisic, whilst raising eyebrows at the price Inter are demanding for the 28-year-old, is another perfect fit as a winger able to join in the attack but can drop back and defend when required.

Throughout the season, Mourinho has rotated Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and even Marcus Rashford around as left wingers but none of them fit the style as defensive wingers Mourinho wants. Martial is a forward and unwilling to track back and defend.

Eden Hazard had the same views at Chelsea and was one of the players who turned on the Portuguese manager during the 2015/16 campaign, meaning Mourinho will either push Martial forward or out of the club.

Rashford is a fan favourite and tries to fill the role but is best suited as a forward as well. Lingard meanwhile can both attack and defend but is below the quality of player United should be starting regularly.

Finally, Mourinho tends to favour a single leading striker with support players able to join and help the attack.

Diego Milito was brought to Inter by the Portuguese manager in the summer of 2009, just as Ibrahimović and Lukaku were brought to United in the summers of 2016 and 2017. All three strikers are tall, clinical forwards, powerful in the air and accomplished dribblers.

All are able to press and harass defenders and provides both a target forward and distraction for the other attackers in the team to take advantage of.

Whilst Marcus Rashford clearly is an exciting prospect for the future, each signing that Mourinho has brought in since arriving has seen him slowly build the squad to resemble his successful Inter Milan team and Mourinho will be hoping that this season it brings him the success he demands.

This new look United side then will be aiming for both success at home and Europe in the hopes of emulating what his Inter side achieved seven seasons ago.