Man United face Jose Mourinho-led overhaul in defence and midfield

Jose Mourinho's assessment of Manchester United's season is simple: "Progress, but we need more."

With three Premier League games remaining, United have already amassed more points and scored more goals than they managed last season. Four points from fixtures against Brighton, West Ham and Watford would see them secure second place in the table, which would be their highest finish since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

Mourinho is already convinced, probably correctly, that his team have been good enough over the course of the campaign to finish second, but not first. He believes they would have won the Europa League again this season had they been in it, although Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid (Champions League finalists in 2014 and 2016) might have something to say.

United were not, however, anywhere near good enough to win the Champions League -- something Mourinho readily admits. Their last-16 exit to Sevilla, who have not won a single game since their 2-1 victory at Old Trafford on March 13, is testament to that.

The question for Mourinho is how to make the step up at home and abroad. How do you make the leap from second to first in the Premier League and from also-rans to winners in the Champions League?

For a start, he is adamant he will not rely solely on the Glazers' money. He is hopeful his core of young players -- Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku -- will improve to help make up some of the ground.

The coaching staff at Carrington expect Alexis Sanchez, still finding his feet after his January move from Arsenal, to get better, particularly after a summer without international football. David De Gea and Nemanja Matic will be asked to carry on doing what they're doing.

As for the rest, Mourinho will "touch" his squad: his way of saying there will be changes, but not too many. He will look to sign a central midfielder to replace Michael Carrick, possibly two midfielders if Marouane Fellaini cannot agree to terms on a new contract.

Sources have told ESPN FC there is interest in Fred at Shakhtar Donetsk, Jean-Michael Seri at Nice and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic at Lazio. Andreas Pereira, currently on loan at Valencia, is another option although the 22-year-old is keen to play regular first-team football and will have to be convinced of his place in the squad for next season.

There are question marks, too, over United's defence. Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young, the regular full-backs, are both converted wingers in the final stages of their careers. Bailly is considered United's most competent centre-back but was left out of the squad entirely for games against Tottenham and Arsenal last week.

Lindelof, a £31 million signing from Benfica last summer, has been eased in gently while there still doubts about Phil Jones' ability to stay fit for a full season. Marcos Rojo signed a new contract in March but hasn't played a minute of football since Feb. 3. Chris Smalling has been Mourinho's regular centre-back this season, with only De Gea, Matic and Lukaku starting more games.

Sources have told ESPN FC that Timothy Fosu-Mensah (on loan at Crystal Palace) and Axel Tuanzebe (on loan at Aston Villa) will be assessed over the summer before decisions are made on where they should play their football next season. Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind, meanwhile, are likely to leave at the end of the season. Sources have told ESPN FC that Juventus are confident of signing Darmian, who has only made three Premier League starts in 2017-18.

Luke Shaw's situation is more complicated. Sources have told ESPN FC he is keen to win back his place in the England squad and will consider his options in the summer. Mourinho has consistently overlooked Shaw but sources insist the left-back still retains significant support from club chiefs who would be reluctant to let him leave.

Martial, six months younger, falls into the same category although the noises coming from his representatives suggest he is more willing to push for a move. If the France international does depart, sources have told ESPN FC that Mourinho will ask United to go back to Chelsea with another bid for Willian.

Mourinho got the progress he wanted this season: more points, more goals, a much improved league position and another trophy, if they can beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final next month. The challenge now is to keep moving forward. To find, as Mourinho puts it, that little bit more.