José Mourinho admitted he had suffered a bout of pre-match nerves before his return to the Premier League as manager of Manchester United as his team kick-started a new era with a comfortable win at Bournemouth.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on his English top-flight debut, adding to earlier goals from Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney, as the visitors overcame a rusty opening to impose themselves at the Vitality Stadium. Mourinho had lost to Eddie Howe’s side as manager of Chelsea last season, losing his job just 12 days after Glenn Murray’s goal had secured an eye-catching win at Stamford Bridge, but his first experience of life in the Premier League away from the London club proved more palatable.
Asked if he had been nervous before his return to the division, Mourinho said: “To be honest, yes a little bit before the game. But for somebody with so many years in football, to have that feeling is normal. I never forget coming with Real Madrid to Old Trafford and asking Sir Alex if he was still nervous, and he just said: ‘Yes.’ I understand these things never change. Experience helps with many things but it’s good to have a little feeling.
“But I’m really happy now. We prepared really well for the game and knew they would press us high with intensity in those first 15 to 20 minutes, so we had to have control. After that we had to play and, in the second half, we were very fluent and it was almost the complete performance. From a good collective performance came some very good individual performances, too, so I’m very happy.”
Ibrahimovic’s goal, scored from distance just after the hour mark, maintained a remarkable record of having registered on debut in Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1, the Champions League and now the Premier League. There was encouragement to be had, too, in Rooney opening his account, Eric Bailly’s impressive display at centre-half and Luke Shaw’s first top-flight game in 11 months, with this a victory underlying the potential of a squad who are yet to integrate the world-record £93m signing, Paul Pogba, who missed this match through suspension, into the midfield.
“You are always optimistic,” said Rooney. “You always believe that you can win titles, but I think we have made a real statement ahead of this season by bringing Zlatan in, Paul Pogba, Bailly and [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan to improve our team. We also have a successful manager who has won trophies everywhere he has been. So there is excitement not only with ourselves but with fans, and we can sense that.”
“Everybody knows we are going to fight for the title,” added Mourinho. “Win it or not win it is a different story. But everyone knows we are going to try. We don’t hide in our words or our approach, so we are going to fight until it’s possible. If one day it’s not mathematically possible then we’ll think about top four, which would be one step ahead of last season which would be fine. But we want more than fine. We want to fight for the title.”
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