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Gary Cahill & Man Utd? Why moody Mou must go with what he knows

COMMENT: In a crisis, stand by your principles. Go with what you know. That has to be the thinking of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United as the days tick towards this summer's transfer deadline.

If he's serious. If he really wants him. Mourinho can be reunited with Willian before August 9. Chelsea, while loathe (after Nemanja Matic) to lose yet another title winner to Mourinho, are eager to do business. Indeed, some intermediaries would tell you they're desperate after last week's antics.

"They had to choose between the two," declared Junior Minguella, who worked on the deal that took Malcom from Bordeaux to Barcelona. "So that's what they did."

And it wasn't for lack of effort on Chelsea's behalf that Malcom - and not Willian - was unveiled at the Nou Camp last week. Indeed, in those final frantic hours, as AS Roma were scrambling to rescue their deal for Malcom, Chelsea were attempting to do the same with Barca - slashing their last asking price of €75m, pleading with the Catalans to take Willian off their hands. But Barca called their bluff. And now Chelsea are left having to negotiate with United over a player whom we all know is unwanted at Stamford Bridge.

But it's the second Blue being linked with Old Trafford that tells us more about Mourinho's thinking, now that he enters a third season in charge.

And for the Portuguese, at this stage in his United career, it's not just about personalities. Matic, Romelu Lukaku, Willian... even Juan Mata. It's a little Chelsea that is being built at Carrington these days. But for the latest Blue on his radar, this isn't about a name, its about the manager reverting to type.

If Daniele Rugani is to arrive at Stamford Bridge, then it will be the captain, Gary Cahill, who will make way. So says the Turin press, where intermediaries have let it be known Chelsea's plan is to sign the Juventus defender first, then sell Cahill to United to make room. And with a desperate Mourinho now planning to field Matic at centre-half, the proposal makes sense.

Cahill is the defender Mourinho has leaned on throughout his career. But the one he has so far avoided bringing to Old Trafford.

If a deal can be done, Cahill will arrive as the 2018 version of Ricardo Carvalho. Or John Terry. Or even Marco Materazzi...

At Porto, then Chelsea and finally Real Madrid, Mourinho took with him Ricardo Carvalho. At Inter Milan, he counted on Materazzi, though the Italian barely played in their Treble season. It was enough to have the big man around the club. To have him put Mario Balotelli through a locker room wall. And upon his second spell at the Bridge, that title winning season was built around Terry. A virtual ever present and who, at 35, lifted the Premier League crown after perhaps the best campaign of his career.

This has been one of the cornerstones of Mourinho's career success. A veteran defender. A leader. Someone with winning experience. A player the manager knows and can rely upon. A centre-half in the Gary Cahill mould.

This preseason has been a disaster for Mourinho. A write-off. He said as much after the humiliation in Michigan against Liverpool. "What did this game give me?" Mourinho asked himself out loud, "Nothing, nothing at all."

And with less than a fortnight to go before the Premier League market shuts, Mourinho is facing up to the prospect of being let down by the higher ups. Again, at the final whistle on Sunday, he let us all know - including his board - where things stood.

"I would like to have two more players," he declared. "I think I am not going to have two, I think it is possible I am going to have one, is possible.

"And that one I gave a list to my club five names a few months ago and I wait to see if it's possible to have one of these players."

So it's desperate times. A situation where Mourinho should be forgiven for going with what he knows. A move for Cahill is about alleviating the anxiety. Diminishing the doubt. Now 32, the Blues captain wouldn't arrive to strengthen United's chances in games against the likes of Manchester City or Liverpool. Mourinho knows his players are good enough for those contests. As they showed last season.

Cahill's arrival will be more about getting three points at Turf Moor. Or a clean sheet at Craven Cottage. At grounds and on occasions where the mental edge of genuine title winners has been found wanting in this United group. Cahill offers that.

He offers Mourinho peace of mind. Reliability. Just as Matic did for the manager's midfield last season, Cahill can do the same for his back four. And after a World Cup summer and a shortened transfer window, Mourinho needs to go back to what he knows.

It's pragmatic. Practical. And really the only approach open to United with the deadline less than two weeks away.


Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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