Five things we learned from Jose Mourinho’s first game as Manchester United managerPublished July 17, 2016
Jose Mourinho took charge at Manchester United for the first time on Saturday, as the ‘Special One’ oversaw a comfortable 2-0 victory at the DW Stadium, thanks to goals from Will Keane and Andreas Pereira.
New United signings Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly also made their debuts for the club, though Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was absent, as the Swedish forward is on holiday having played at Euro 2016.
England players Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford and Chris Smalling were also unavailable following their international commitments.
Despite player absentees, there was certainly a lot for the new United boss to ponder, and we at Free Bets, take a look at the five things we learned from the Portuguese’s first match in charge.
Mourinho to stick with tried and tested formation
We would be remiss to form set judgments based on the team’s first preseason friendly, but it looks as though Mourinho will persist with his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. Despite missing many players, the 53-year-old wants to set his plans in motion right from the off, to ensure the reds are prepared for their Premier League season opener against Bournemouth.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan could be a real star at No.10
Whilst also the transfer talk around Old Trafford has revolved around Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba, the signing of Armenian, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, could turn out to be the best signing of the season.
The 27-year-old was the standout performer in the No. 10 role during the first half at the DW, and playing in-behind the striker could prove the catalyst for the former Dortmund player’s success this season.
The Armenian was the leading assist-maker in the Bundesliga during 2015-16 and he could repeat the same feat in his debut season in England.
Juan Mata not ready to leave without a fight
The arrival of Mkhitaryan may very well spell the end of Juan Mata’s career at Old Trafford, though the Spaniard proved on Saturday that he isn’t ready to give up without a fight. Although left out of the starting XI, the former Chelsea man made his mark from the bench, setting up United’s first goal and playing a key role in much of United’s subsequent build-up play.
Eric Bailly looks Premier League quality
Whilst a pre-season friendly away to Wigan is hardly Barcelona at the Nou Camp in the Champions League, there was a lot to like about United’s new centre-back Eric Bailly.
The £30m summer signing from Villarreal has all the attributes to succeed in the Premier League, and his display on Saturday was extremely encouraging for United supporters.
It’s clear that the 22-year-old is still raw, but it seems as though Jose Mourinho will rely on the youngster to form a new look defence at Old Trafford.
Luke Shaw to be Mourinho’s new Ashley Cole
Ten months on from suffering a double broke leg, left-back Luke Shaw finally returned to action. The 21-year-old looked calm, composed, and a constant threat down the left-side.
After the match, Jose Mourinho spoke very warmly of his defender, explaining that he had been impressed by Shaw’s decision not to go on holiday in order to work on his fitness.
The England international’s absence was a huge factor for United’s troubles last season, and it would be no surprise to see Mourinho turn the former Saints defender into the new Ashley Cole, a player who served Jose so well at Stamford Bridge.