Manchester United’s involvement in the Champions League is a welcome change for everyone. A club of such stature deserves to be among the elites and will get their chance of staking their claim when they take on Basel tonight.
Manchester United and the Champions League have had a romantic relationship of sorts. There have been fairy tales, heartbreaks and make-ups aplenty, and the stage is set for yet another homecoming, as Old Trafford ushers in Manchester United’s Mourinho era in the Champions League.
All eyes will be on Jose, as he reveals his first United Starting XI in this illustrious competition. Now, here’s where the debate arises; should Mourinho stick to the same squad that has been performing so well in the league? Or should he rotate his squad in Europe’s Premier competition?
To answer that question, we need to address a few facts.
Manchester United’s squad depth is good enough, in comparison to some of the other teams in the competition; but will Mourinho be tempted into delving into his resources?
Mourinho has been known to be tactically adept for when it comes to dealing with the opposition’s threat. But, one of his major weaknesses is an unwillingness to bring that element of surprise for when it comes to squad rotation.
Chelsea’s 2015/16 season serves as an example for Mourinho’s doctrine.
With a squad of just 23 players, albeit title winning ones; his side capitulated in the following season, leading to Mourinho’s sack. Even in the current season, he has used just 14 players from his pool in 4 games; showing his reluctance to change the squad.
Squad rotation was central to Sir Alex Ferguson’s memorable treble win. He was spoilt for options, and it was his efficient usage of the squad that helped United register the first treble in their history.
Squad rotation induces the element of surprise into the mix. In today’s world, with the technological advancements and integration into Football, it isn’t wrong to expect the opposition to have done their homework on your strengths and weaknesses. Bringing in new fresh faces into the squad for cup games might disturb the mentality of the opposition, and Jose will want to capitalize on that.
It remains to be seen as to how Jose will set-up his teams in the Champions League and the other domestic cup competitions, but a change in Mourinho’s ideology is necessary if United are to win silverware this season.