Revisiting the Man Utd Xl from Jose Mourinho’s final game in charge in 2018

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Despite winning three trophies in his first year at Manchester United, Jose Mourinho was eventually sacked following a dreadful start to his third season. 

Mourinho’s final game in charge at United came against Liverpool at Anfield in December 2018. Sadio Mane’s strike and a brace from Xherdan Shaqiri gave the hosts a 3-1 win, leaving United sixth in the league. 

We’ve taken a look back at their side from that day to see how those players have fared since.

David De Gea

Since winning his fourth United Player of the Year award in 2017-18, De Gea has suffered a huge downturn in form.

The Spain international has made a series of high profile mistakes in the last three seasons and also missed the decisive penalty in their 2021 Europa League final defeat to Villarreal.

According to reports, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has selected Dean Henderson as his No.1 ahead of De Gea for the 2021-22 season.

“I think they are good goalkeepers. I don’t think they are phenomenal goalkeepers or, in Dean Henderson’s case, not yet phenomenal,” Mourinho told the Times in 2021.

“When I say not yet, I say he will be. I met him at [Manchester] United when he was a kid and I always remember him asking me to go on loan. He was saying when I come back, I come back to be the No.1.

“He told me that when he was the fourth choice. He is a kid with incredible self confidence and I think he is ready.”

Matteo Darmian

Darmian made just three appearances under Solskjaer before being shipped off to Parma for £1.4million in 2019.

The full-back then joined Inter Milan in 2020 and helped them win the Serie A title, transforming himself into a match-winning superstar forward towards the end of his debut campaign.

READ: Look away Man Utd fans, Darmian is now Inter’s title-winning goal machine

Chris Smalling

After playing regularly under Louis van Gaal and Mourinho, Smalling fell out of favour following Solskjaer’s arrival in 2018.

The 31-year-old spent a season on loan at Roma before making the move permanent in 2020, bringing an end to his 10-year spell at United.

He’s since reunited with Mourinho, who replaced Paulo Fonseca to become the new Roma manager in 2021.

“It was quite a surprise to a lot of us, but there was initial excitement from everyone,” Smalling told BBC Sport in July 2021.

“I knew the media would build up something about our relationship in the past. But from a personal point of view, it is a good thing because I have played under him.

“We have won trophies together. He made me captain in one of those finals – the 2017 EFL Cup final – as well, so having the chance to play under someone who you know is good, has been so successful and is so determined to win trophies at all costs is a positive.

“I know how big a deal it would be to bring a trophy of some sort to the club. Jose’s history shows the club has picked the perfect man to do that.”

Victor Lindelof

Despite being signed by Mourinho for £30.8million in the summer of 2017, Lindelof struggled to earn the trust of the Portuguese manager.

“Lindelof is very, very good in some aspects of the game,” Mourinho later told Sky Sports in 2019. “But he can be bullied in the one-on-one in the box, he’s not especially good in the air and Maguire has that kind of presence and physicality that is very, very important.”

The Sweden international has been given a new lease of life under Solskjaer, making 92 appearances in all competitions across the last two seasons. But he will now face increased competition from Raphael Varane, who is set to join United from Real Madrid.

Ashley Young

Young was appointed United captain by Solskjaer, only to then reject a new contract and leave for Inter Milan in January 2020.

The 36-year-old quietly impressed under Antonio Conte, making 26 Serie A appearances during their victorious campaign in 2020-21.

He’s since returned to the Premier League, joining former club Aston Villa on a one-year deal.

Diogo Dalot (Marouanne Fellaini, 45)

One of Mourinho’s last United signings, Dalot was regarded as one of the best young full-backs in Europe but has made just 20 Premier League appearances.

He spent 2020-21 on loan at AC Milan and has been linked with another move to the Serie A side, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka well above him in the pecking order at United.

Despite being a key player under Mourinho, Fellaini was immediately deemed surplus to requirements by Solskjaer. He joined Shandong Luneng in February 2019 and remains with the Chinese Super League side to this day.

Ander Herrera (Anthony Martial, 79)

Herrera established himself as a fan favourite at United but called time on a five-year stay at the club when his contract expired in 2019.

The midfielder then joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer, winning Ligue 1 and playing in the Champions League final in his debut season.

But with PSG reportedly planning a move for Paul Pogba this summer, he could soon found himself on the move yet again.

Martial endured a turbulent relationship with Mourinho and has continued to struggle with inconsistency during Solskjaer’s reign.

READ: A brilliant XI made up of players Jose Mourinho has fallen out with

Nemanja Matic

Having worked under Mourinho at Chelsea, Matic joined the manager at Old Trafford in 2017 and became a near ever-present figure in midfield.

The 33-year-old has found first-team opportunities a lot harder to come by during Solskjaer’s reign, starting just 12 Premier League games in 2020-21.

Marcus Rashford

Rashford has gone from strength to strength under Solskjaer’s management, recently hitting the 20-goal mark in back-to-back seasons for the first time in his career.

But more importantly, he’s become a national hero in England due to his selfless work off the pitch.

READ: 7 times Marcus Rashford was a better person than all of us put together

Jesse Lingard (Juan Mata, 85)

United’s only goalscorer from that defeat at Anfield, Lingard initially impressed under Solskjaer but lost his place in the team following a dramatic loss of form.

The 28-year-old then enjoyed a career renaissance during his loan spell at West Ham in 2020-21, registering nine goals and five assists in 16 appearances.

Despite being linked with a permanent move away, he’s now back at Old Trafford and is reportedly ready to fight for his place in the team.

Mata is preparing for his ninth season at United but now finds himself on the fringes of Solskjaer’s side, with his appearances becoming ever more limited.

Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku became a much-maligned figure during his second season at Old Trafford and decided to join Inter Milan for £74million in 2019.

“I made my decision around March, and I went to the manager’s office and told him it was time for me to find something else,” Lukaku told Sky Sports in January 2020.

“I wasn’t performing and I wasn’t playing. I think it was better for both sides to go separate ways. I think I made the right decision.”

The striker has silenced his critics and rediscovered his best form in Italy, scoring 64 goals in 95 appearances over the last two seasons.

Having won the Serie A title in 2020-21, he reportedly wants to return to the Premier League with Chelsea and would cost around €120million.


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