Alexis Sanchez at Manchester United is Jose Mourinho’s Knight in Shining Armour
Manchester United, in 2011 tried hard to bring Sanchez to Old Trafford from Udinese, but it was Barcelona under Pep Guardiola who had the final laugh.
Alexis Sanchez poses with the Manchester United jersey. (Manchester United website)
George Best, Eric Cantona, David Beckham, Bryan Robson and Cristiano Ronaldo – that is what the Manchester United’s newest recruit, Alexis Sanchez will have to live up to. It is undoubtedly a daunting task to match up to the aforementioned greats, but the Chilean’s lust for glory is expected to stand him in good stead.
Manchester United, in 2011 tried hard to bring Sanchez to Old Trafford from Udinese, but it was Barcelona under Pep Guardiola who had the final laugh. The newest number 7 in the red half of Manchester snubbed his former boss and was unveiled with deserving finesse, and why not, since his arrival in England, he has single handedly carried Arsenal’s hopes of silverware. Only three, Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Romelu Lukaku, have scored more goals than him since 2014 in the Premier League.
When Jose Mourinho, a man who fixes the short term, was brought in at Old Trafford – the aim was to make United the dominant force yore. Signing Sanchez, if things fall into place, will be a masterstroke.
Not only does Sanchez have qualities similar to a younger and fitter Carlos Tevez, but he also brings to the table the fact that he is ready to hit the ground running. Similar to Tevez and similar to what Real Madrid enjoyed when Cristiano Ronaldo moved base to Spain, and there is more to it than what meets the eye. The former Barcelona man’s qualities are well documented and he will add some much needed explosiveness and dynamism in attack.
Without the Chilean, Mourinho’s squad can be looked at in two ways; the likes of David de Gea, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial are world class, while the rest includes a red hot Jesse Lingard, Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, Chris Smalling et al who are delightfully hardworking but not top drawer – and the gulf in both tiers when exposed, spells trouble. Sanchez goes into the world class bracket and will add weight to the spine of the team – one would imagine that is the thought process behind engineering the straight swap with the out of favour Henrikh Mikhitaryan going to Arsenal.
The Chilean will be on the receiving end of some brilliant midfield play by Pogba and is required to shore up an otherwise floundering and profligate attack that is led by the woefully out of form Lukaku.
Tactically, Sanchez will play in a free role that will see him behind the front man and ahead of the duo of Pogba and Matic. The prospect is rosy and the demand is nothing short of beautiful football, if not that, at least effective play that will help end the domestic season strongly apart from bettering the chances of doing well in Europe. The possibility of turning around a 12 point deficit against a rampant Manchester City in the league looks quite bleak.
But, an important aspect of this transfer is off the field, not the commercial aspect, as Sanchez is likely to have more of an effect on field than on the balance sheets. In the Chilean captain, Mourinho has seen a mirror image of himself – the duo shares a distinct greed for success, which has been fuelled by unimpressive seasons in the recent past. Sanchez is a warrior and not the malfunctioning self that was visible at the Emirates. The coming together of the warrior and the inherent lust for success is possibly just the catalyst which was required at Old Trafford.
Sanchez scored 30 goals last season, his best so far, a number that is very reassuring for a manager who has been complaining about a lack of firepower. United are the third highest scorers in the league, and the numbers are nothing short of promising.
Whilst everything points towards Sanchez being the focal point of the Red Devils attack in the recent future, he needs support and love, which was hard to find towards the end of his stint as a Gunner. Mourinho is not only famous for building winning machines, but also for his ability with mind games.
As United close in on half a decade of not winning the Premier League, Sanchez could be Mourinho’s last throw of the dice. The planning and the ground work are there, and the script looks set for Sanchez.
United faithful will certainly be watching him with a keen eye and see if he lives up the billing of the famed no.7 legacy or fade away like the past few have at the Theatre of Dreams.
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