10 months agoFree & nasty: Why Pepe the old ‘basket’ this Man Utd needs

first_imgTagsTransfersOpinionAbout the authorChris BeattieShare the loveHave your say Free & nasty: Why Pepe the old ‘basket’ this Man Utd needsby Chris Beattie10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveCOMMENT: They’ve already had the conversation. Jose Mourinho and Jorge Mendes. The Manchester United manager will have been all across it – and well before yesterday’s announcement…’So, do you want him? He fancies it…,’ the pitch from Mourinho’s agent will have been made. Short. To the point. Just as he offered Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao to the then Chelsea manager some four years ago. That is, before delivering them to Ed Woodward, United’s vice-chairman exec. Mendes will have given Mourinho first refusal on his latest client to become available. A player to parachute into the shambles that is United’s back four this season. A player who has gone to war for Mourinho. Who has spilled blood for the manager. Both his and the opposition’s. One who revels in being a right old basket. The sort of basket this United locker room has sorely missed. Ryan Giggs, the Wales coach, said as much yesterday. Picking over the wreckage of what was left at Anfield, Giggs took aim at Romelu Lukaku – though with a twist. As bad as the Belgian was, argued United’s famous No11, the lack of confrontation inside the locker room was doing him no favours.”I look at Lukaku and his touch was bad,” stated Giggs, “but also I don’t see any other player having a go at him, saying: ‘Listen we need you to hold it up.’ “What that does is, Lukaku might have a go back and you get fired up.”It’s like when you get tackled or fouled, you get fired up. You don’t see that in that Manchester United team. “We’re playing in a different era to when I used to play when you had a lot more leaders and characters but if your team-mate isn’t performing, you tell them. You must do.” Step forward Pepe. The three time Champions League winner. Of Real Madrid fame. Now wrapping up his stay with Besiktas. In a day or so he’ll be a free agent. A leader. A winner. A personality to organise those around him. To demand they follow the manager’s instructions. And one who won’t flinch if a rollicking is needed for a young teammate – even if that young teammate boasts a World Cup winner’s medal.We know Mourinho has been seeking such a player. Those Andreas Granqvist stories weren’t plucked from thin air. United had a presence at Helsingborgs games this season. The veteran centre-half – at 33 – was a consideration for Mourinho. Granqvist knew it. The HIF board knew it. Like Pepe, the Swede’s experience and organising know-how was what had attracted the United manager. Though this is one we can’t confirm, it’s perhaps no coincidence that Granqvist – after some excitement last month – announced over the weekend he was “99.9 per cent sure” an Old Trafford move was now off. Maybe, just maybe, the word had reached Granqvist’s reps that another veteran was now Mourinho’s focus.After Liverpool. After the confusion. The chaos. Mourinho needs something different. Something to stop the monotonous lurching. From crisis to inevitable crisis. He needs a circuit breaker. And Pepe can be just that.The 35 year-old isn’t leaving Besiktas because of form. Nor any type of personality clash. With the Black Eagles struggling to pay the bills, the Portuguese has agreed to terminate his contract. The defender made an on pitch farewell yesterday for Besiktas’ draw with Trabzonspor. This just days after he left thousands in an envelope for club staff to share as a personal Christmas bonus.So now he is free – and been offered to Mourinho. Someone to help bring on Diogo Dalot. To guide and develop the raw talent of Eric Bailly. The potential of Victor Lindelof. And one to demand better from those around him. The leader on the pitch. The personality inside the dressing room. The one Mourinho has lacked since Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s departure a year ago.That call from Mendes last week could be just the Lifebuoy Mourinho has been desperately seeking all season. last_img

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