Although they might be sat directly below their bitter rivals, you will struggle to find a Manchester United fan who would complain about their start to the season.
Mounting their first genuine title challenge since Sir Alex Ferguson rained supreme, Mourinho’s summer signings looked to have added a much-needed spark. Romelu Lukaku sits tied at the top of the Premier League top scorers charts and Nemanja Matic has looked like a colossus in the middle of United’s midfield. But, you wouldn’t blame a United fan for forgetting about their third big-money signing, Victor Lindelof.
Since arriving from Benfica in June for a fee in the region of £31million, like most big money signings, many expected the Swedish international would just slide straight into the heart of United’s defence. However, the 23-year-old has been rarely seen around Old Trafford and is yet to make his Premier League debut.
"In the future, Lindelof is going to have more opportunities," says Jose. "He will improve step by step like the good player he is." #MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 26, 2017
To be fair to Lindelof, he probably hasn’t been helped by the fact that Phil Jones has been a revelation and United’s current defensive line have only conceded two goals so far this season.
Mourinho this week has explained that he is still holding off on the centre-half and that the Swede needs more time to adapt to the Premier League. With the defender apparently still quite a way from nailing down a regular first-team spot, are United feeling a touch of buyers remorse?
He needs time, no pressure, but also he needs opportunities. The fact that he played against Basel and then against Burton then in the future he’s going to have more opportunities to play. He will prove step by step that he is ready to play.
– Jose Mourinho
To add to the pressure and attention that already comes with signing for United, Lindelof endured what we will describe as a clumsy pre-season. Making his unofficial debut on United’s annual tour of the U.S, the former Benfica man didn’t exactly announce himself to the United faithful.
For Lindelof, It was a tough start to his United tenure. After looking nervous against the likes of Real Madrid, Lindelof drew criticism on social media after he clattered Theo Hernandez, handing Madrid a stonewalled penalty. To make matters worse, he missed a penalty up the other end as well.
On a possible bright note for Lindelof and Manchester United fans, this is a situation that is strikingly similar to the approach that Mourinho took with midfield maestro Henrikh Mkhitaryan, last season.
Now arguably United’s standout performer of 2017, the former Dortmund man was barely featured for the early stages of the season. Once again, Mourinho made it clear that Mkhitaryan needed time to adapt and the Armenian international is now a key part of United’s success.
Mourinho has stuck to his promise, though, although Lindelof is still not deemed to be worthy of a Premier League spot, the Swede has made a handful of brief appearances, featuring in both of United’s Champions League group games and also United’s Carabao Cup win against Championship strugglers Burton Albion. With Jones and Bailly locked in as Mourinho’s top two, Lindelof and his Swedish national coach, Janne Anderson will be hoping that United are able to mount a strong cup run this year.
Victor Lindelof deserves a mention, I thought he was class tonight, He'll come good for us, I have no doubt about that
— Matthew (@Carrick4united) September 27, 2017
So, United fans, will Lindelof become the new Ricardo Carvalho that Jose is hoping for? or will he quickly be caught out when playing among the world elite?