And for a second time this transfer window, United have had their pants pulled down to their ankles.
Don't get me wrong, Matic is good, but only on a good day, and 40M for a player who is very much hot and cold is just way too much. Plus he's not particularly young anymore, which makes this "investment" even crazier. Not saying Chelsea will have it any easier with Bakayoko, but at least the latter has time (and room) to improve.
It is also gutting to see that this all but confirms Blind's status at United, as he'll most definitely be limited to performances as a full back (and centre back if need be) - a shame really, as I really wanted to see him make that holding midfield position his own. He's basically got the same demeaour as Carrick, and would only become better in that role if tutored in the appropriate way, but it seems like Jose's got different plans.
Plus, with Perisic looking unlikely, I'd hazard a guess and say that this was United's last activity in this transfer window. I'd obviously still want to see some players leave (cough Smalling cough, cough Jones cough), though Mourinho has made it clear that he wants to keep the squad as large as possible, which is understandable.
Also delighted to hear that he's not planning on loaning anyone out, meaning that [Andreas] Pereira finally gets to show his worth. Definitely expecting big stuff from him, and also from some of the youngsters who have demonstrated some promising stuff in this pre-season tour, i.e. McTominay, Fosu-Mensah, Mitchell, etc.
With that in mind, here's my predictions for the line-ups:
De Gea/Romero (Pereira)
Valencia (Fosu-Mensah/Young**) Bailly (Jones/Smalling/Blind) Lindelof (Rojo*) Darmian/Shaw (Blind)
Herrera (Pereira/McTominay) Pogba (Fellaini)
Mkhitaryan/Mata (Lingard) Rashford/Martial
* I'd expect Rojo to start against most opponents, as he's really turned into a solid centre back under Mourinho. Plus, he has the aggressivity you often need against the top teams (though preferably moderate aggressivity, meaning no two-footers and flying elbows). Lindelof will have time until the new year to prove me wrong though.
** Young will probably be second choice once he comes back from injury, though only time can tell how important Fosu-Mensah becomes in this upcoming season. Judging by what I've seen so far, if you are able to keep Gareth Bale in your back pocket for a solid 45 minutes, you deserve to be in contention for a starting spot in this United team, not to forget the amount of players he kept schtum when playing in good ol' Aloysius' United side.
*** Aah, Zlatan... Well if he does stay, which I think he will, the main question is whether or not he'll be ahead of Lukaku in the pecking order. And honestly, I just cannot see Zlatan playing second fiddle to anyone, let alone someone with the same amount of technique he has in his left testicle. A big game player Lukaku will unfortunately never be, as he just lacks the mentality for it, so Zlatan starts if fit.
Mourinho has made it clear that the squad will rotate throughout the season, and in all competitions, meaning that even the goalkeeper's spot is not fixed. I find that fair to be honest, especially considering how Romero has been an incredible professional since joining the club. He's a great goalkeeper, and I'd definitely understand the point in choosing him over De Gea for certain games, as he for one has an impeccible aerial presence, which in turn is still De Gea's main weakness.
It will definitely be interesting to see how all of this materialises of course, as in theory United once again have one of the strongest teams on paper, though that means little to nothing nowadays.