United’s defence is likely to be the area of the team that sees the biggest change over the next 12-18 months. Ashley Young is out of contract at the end of the season but, while he is in talks over a 12-month extension, he will be 34 in July. Fellow full-back Antonio Valencia will also be 34 this summer and his mobility has been greatly reduced over the past year. Like Valencia, Jones and Matteo Darmian are out of contract in June but with options on the club’s side to extend those deals by a further 12 months to June 2020.
United’s impressive momentum under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continued on Wednesday with a 2-0 win at Newcastle.
Paul Pogba is among those who have been reinvigorated since Mourinho’s sacking, with four goals in as many games. But fellow midfielder Ander Herrera believes it is Pogba’s improved defensive diligence as much as his attacking qualities that are benefiting United. The Frenchman was often accused of indiscipline and showboating under Mourinho.
“He is very important for the club – on the pitch and off the pitch as well,” Herrera said. “He’s playing really well, not only with the ball.As soon as we lose the ball he is ready to defend, ready to help the team. He is playing very simple and effective in our half, then when he is in the opponent’s half he has that magic to change the game, so we are really happy for him.
“I think Nemanja [Matic] and me, or the other players, we have to help him to make him feel free and that’s what we’re doing.”