Jose Mourinho is clearly not a fan of long-distance trips and his new side’s pre-season so far has justified his frustration.
Pre-season tours are supposed to be for preparation, yet Manchester United seem to chase the global riches. And there’s definitely much of that in China.
A 4-1 defeat to Borussia Dortmund last Friday marked the start of their woes. Though a thrashing wasn’t ideal, the fitness of the players is the priority and the German side had already played four games to United’s one a week earlier. The searing heat wouldn’t have helped either.
Following Shanghai was a trip north to Beijing. Two planes carried the team but conjured different fortunes. The first arrived; the second diverted due to terrible weather.
Upon arrival, Mourinho’s annoyance was clear and having his press conference moved from a room which could have passed for a sauna to pitch side, where he was to be asked a series of ridiculous questions, was never going to cheer him up.
The capital was to play host to the first ever Manchester derby outside the North West. Yet torrential rain which led to flooding around the city meant a training session planned by both clubs was moved to another stadium.
Mourinho made a fine impression with United’s players, staff and the media on tour. He was aware of the state of the pitch at the Bird’s Nest, as were City.
Desperation creeped into the groundsmen at the national stadium and by Sunday, it looked a total mess and threatened to cause serious injury. The game was cancelled to the surprise of very little.
Mourinho had no say in the two-game eight-day trip as it was planned by Louis van Gaal, with the Dutchman convinced he would return for this campaign. Next year it will be the 53-year-old who makes the decision alone.
Mourinho’s decision to add an extra friendly to the summer schedule — the 2-0 win against Wigan Athletic —seems wise. United will have had five warm-up matches to City’s three by the time the Premier League gets underway.
Making up for the loss of the Beijing match will start against Galatasaray in Gothenburg this Saturday. After the trip to Sweden, Mourinho will be wishing his United side had started their pre-season there, in the home of his first heavyweight signing.