Sunday, 17 July 2016

Jose's Winning Start

Wigan 0 Manchester United 2

This was not just any old run of the mill pre-season friendly this was a match that all Man United fans had been eagerly anticipating since the announcement of Jose Mourinho's appointment as the new manager.

There was certainly more focus on the manager by the fans and the press than the action on the pitch. As the away support blasted out Mourinho's name relentlessly the cameras followed his every move and gesture as he spent more time on the touchline than van Gaal had in his entire spell as United manager and there was no clipboard in sight.

On the pitch there were many important landmarks, Mkhitaryan and Bailly made solid debuts, Wilson made his return from loan and many academy players were given a run-out with the chance to impress their new manager.

But none were more important than the fact that defender Luke Shaw played his first match for the Red Devils since the horror injury he endured ten months ago to the day. Shaw didn't look like a player who had overcome a serious injury as he never shirked from some crunching challenges. All credit to the 21-year-old and let us hope that this will be his season and one that he fully deserves.

On the game front, United won at a canter and Mourinho made full use of his available squad to ease them through what in all fairness was a training exercise designed to increase fitness levels. There will be tougher clashes ahead during the tours of China and Sweden.

Will Keane will hold the distinction of being the first player to score under Jose Mourinho's reign and his goal was followed by a superb strike on the turn from the impressive Andreas Pereira to make the result a comfortable 2-0 victory over a Wigan side who never really tested goalkeepers Sam Johnstone and Joel Pereira.

New signings Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly slotted in nicely and judging by their performances the fans will be licking their lips for the rest of the season.

With Mourinho reportedly keen to keep his squad for the new season down to a minimum it will be interesting to see how many players from this friendly will still be at Old Trafford come the end of the transfer window, especially when you consider all the big name players who featured in the Euro 2016 tournament have yet to return.

Many of the youngsters will simply return to the under 21's or academy, but it is highly likely that some of them will face more loan spells away from the club or even be released. With the anticipated strike force quartet of Ibrahimovic, Rooney, Martial and Rashford to be the preferred choice of the manager then it's doubtful that scorer Keane and James Wilson will want to hang around.

The same can be said about the defence. With the return of Shaw and the acquisition of Bailly, what does the future hold for the likes of Rojo, McNair, Blackett and some of the many young defenders that played at the back during last season?

United seem to have an abundance of players to call upon in the attacking midfield slots. However, it is the defensive midfield area that needs reinforcing as Carrick and Schweinsteiger will not be able to play a whole season due to age and inevitable injuries so with just Schneiderlin to call upon there is a need there.

Mourinho obviously has a plan and we will all have to wait and see what transpires, but for now it's a first win for the new man in charge and there is a positive vibe once again around the club as they embark on their pre-season tour of China and a little matter of the coming together of Jose and Pep.

The good times seem to be back and long may they continue.

Thanks for reading.

Miles Dunton.