Tony Cascarino believes that Jose Mourinho wants his Manchester United wingers to ‘be like’ Willian, in showing a desire to track their full-back.
Mourinho arrived at Old Trafford this summer following the disastrous end to his Chelsea reign last December, tasked with improving United’s fortunes after Louis van Gaal’s spell in charge.
The Portuguese spent big in the transfer window to strengthen his squad, but questions surrounding his playing style persisted.
Mourinho is renowned for wanting his wingers to track back without the ball, highlighted by his intriguing relationship with Eden Hazard and Juan Mata at Stamford Bridge.
However, Willian proved more than capable of adding that to his attacking game, utilising his work-rate and energy to great effect.
United lost Saturday’s Manchester derby 2-1 at Old Trafford, with Cascarino believing Mourinho’s preference for hard-working wingers was “exemplified” in that game, as few of his options fit the Willian mould.
“The defeat by City exemplified Mourinho’s issue with wingers,” the pundit wrote in his column for The Times.
“He wants them to be runners, thinking as much – if not more – about tracking their full-back as they do about attacking. If they have a decent crossing ability then that helps.
“Essentially he wants them to be like Willian, his go-to man at Chelsea.
“[Jesse] Lingard is probably the man who best fits the Willian model – that’s probably why he was picked for the derby.”
The Red Devils have scored seven goals and conceded three in their opening four Premier League games this season, as they’ve enjoyed a solid start under Mourinho.
United sit third in the table on nine points, one behind Chelsea in second and three adrift of early leaders Manchester City at the summit.
Next up for Mourinho’s men is their opening Europa League fixture at Feyenoord on Thursday night, followed by a trip to Watford this weekend. After that, they take on Northampton Town at Sixfields Stadium in the EFL Cup next Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford, who came on at half-time in Saturday’s Manchester derby to good effect, is set to start in attack in Europa opener and there are likely to be places up for grabs in the wide roles.
The United boss has previously intimated he will rotate his squad for the European assignments with a number of players in contention to make the trip to Rotterdam.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw were substituted during Saturday’s match, with the latter appearing to pick up a knock in the second half. Meanwhile, Ander Herrera joined Rashford in promoting his claims for a return to the starting line-up with an excellent display in the 2-1 defeat.
So far this season many of United’s fringe players have had to wait patiently for their chances, and this could offer the likes of Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo and Morgan Schneiderlin the opportunity to impress.
Mourinho will not want to suffer back-to-back defeats, but United have the strength in depth to ensure they still secure the three points despite plenty of changes.