Pre-season report: Manchester United

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho

Fulfilling his destiny, Jose Mourinho has finally taken the helm at Old Trafford with the aim of turning the club back into a Premiership-winning force.

Manchester United manager Jose MourinhoManchester United manager Jose Mourinho

'The Chosen One' has looked to stamp his mark on the club from the off. The Van Gaal doctrine is not for the Portuguese manager, and he has been quick to ditch his predecessor's much-lampooned "philosophy".

Mourinho's philosophy is simple. “I want to win matches, I want to play well, I want to play young players, I want to score goals, I don't want to concede goals," he announced at his first press conference, as quoted by Sky Sports.

He will be judged by his team's results on the pitch, and in pre-season we've had our first look at Mourinho's United. Here, we cast our eye over their early season results and file our end-of-pre-season report on the Red Devils.

Transfer Market

Back in May, the Manchester Evening News reported that Mourinho was looking to sign four players minimum during the transfer window - a central midfielder, right midfielder, centre forward and centre-back. 

In that regard, Mourinho has had a successful summer of dealings. Eric Bailly arrived from Villarreal for £30 million as a specialist defender, before Zlatan Ibrahimovic confirmed after months of speculation that he would be heading to Old Trafford on a free transfer. 

Armenia captain Henrikh Mkhitaryan arrived from Borussia Dortmund for £26 million, and yesterday it was finally confirmed that Paul Pogba would be returning to the club he left in 2012 for £89 million.

Manchester United's Paul PogbaPaul Pogba in his first spell at Old Trafford

Mourinho has let a lot of fringe players go, such as Nick Powell and ex-Barcelona man Victor Valdes. He may not be finished in his squad trimming, with reports in the Telegraph that he is still open to offers for a number of players, including Bastian Schweinsteiger and Marcus Rojo. 

But if we judge Mourinho's summer dealings by his stated objectives (notwithstanding the uncertainty around a number of departures), he's had a fairly successful summer. 


Pre-Season Results

16 July: Wigan 0-2 Manchester United

Mourinho took charge of his first game on 16 July against Wigan at the DW Stadium. With players such as Wayne Rooney and Ibrahimovic still absent after the Euros, the manager fielded a young team the likes of which won't be seen outside the League Cup. 

Goals from Will Keane and Andreas Pereira saw the Red Devils take the spoils, but it was the return of Luke Shaw after a ten-month injury lay-off that would have pleased Mourinho the most. 


22 July: Manchester United 1-4 Borussia Dortmund

United began their tour of China against 2015/16 Bundesliga runners-up Borussia Dortmund. Mourinho decided not to include Rooney or David De Gea in his starting line-up, and handed a debut to Mkhitaryan.  

The new signing managed to get on the scoresheet, but the superior familiarity of the Dortmund line-up (playing their fifth pre-season game to United's second) told as they took the tie four goals to one. 

Mourinho himself remarked that he wasn't reading too much into the defeat.


30 July: Manchester United 5-2 Galatasaray

The Red Devils took on last year's Turkish Cup winners in Sweden, five days after a scheduled match against Manchester City in China had to be postponed due to a poor pitch.

Mourinho was able to select his three new signings together for the first time alongside the returning Rooney and De Gea. 

Ibrahimovic gave his side the lead on debut with a scissor kick, but Galatasaray replied with two goals of their own to enter half-time 2-1 in the ascendancy. 

Manchester United's Zlatan IbrahimovicZlatan Ibrahimovic made an instant impact on his debut

Mourinho made a raft of changes at half-time with instant results. The added pace of English youngsters Marcus Rashford - including a lengthy solo run that drew a penalty for his side - and Jesse Lingard sparked United into life, with four second-half goals scored by Rooney (x2), Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata. 

The speed with which his side attacked in the second-half would have been pleasing for Mourinho, particularly as he looks to break away from the lethargic, goal-lite Van Gaal era.


3 August: Manchester United 0-0 Everton

Though most testimonials are light-hearted affairs, Wayne Rooney's testimonial match at Old Trafford against his boyhood club was billed as a fully-fledged pre-season run-out. 

The manager made two changes to the side that had started against Galatasaray, with Michael Carrick and Lingard coming in for Morgan Schneiderlin and Mkhitaryan. 

Whilst the new boys were able to have their first run-out on the Old Trafford turf, a fairly dull affair ended 0-0, and Mourinho didn't learn much.


6 August: Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City

Though not strictly a pre-season affair, the Community Shield against reigning champions Leicester City presented Mourinho with one final tie before the league season starts as well as the chance to win his first silverware at the club.

Mourinho opted for the same defence as he had chosen throughout pre-season, with Bailly and Daley Blind in the centre, and Shaw and Antonio Valencia on the flanks. 

Mkhitaryan had to make do with a place on the bench as Carrick, Fellaini, Lingard and Rooney were preferred in midfield, whilst Anthony Martial and Ibrahimovic started up front as they had against Galatasaray and Everton. 

Lingard opened the scoring for United with a brilliant 40-yard run, though this individual brilliance could not hide the remnants of LVG's "philosophy". Mourinho admitted in a press conference that it will take time for him to instil his new ideas in the team.

Manchester United's Jesse Lingard scores their first goalJesse Lingard scoring United's first goal

After Jamie Vardy equalised early in the second-half, it was left to Ibrahimovic to do exactly what he was brought to Old Trafford to do, as he scored what would be the winning goal with only seven minutes of the 90 left. 

It wasn't perfect for Mourinho's men, but it was job done. 


In summary, it was a somewhat indifferent pre-season for United on the field. The early defeat to Dortmund wasn't pleasing for Mourinho but putting five past Galatasaray and winning the Community Shield have certainly put a positive sheen on the beginning of his tenure. 

Let's also not forget that in LVG's first season, an unbeaten pre-season included a 7-0 win over LA Galaxy and a 3-1 win over Real Madrid. So perhaps good pre-seasons are overrated...


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