Friday 21 October 2016

Five things we learned from Jose Mourinho's first game in charge of Manchester United

Published 16/07/2016 | 20:01

Jose Mourinho made his debut as Manchester United manager in Saturday's pre-season friendly against Wigan.

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Here are five things we learned from the 2-0 win.

1. Nothing that can't be unlearned

It may be too obvious to mention, but those looking for hard and fast clues about the key tenets of the Mourinho era will need to look elsewhere. This was a gentle start for the Portuguese and a quiet outing at the DW Stadium is unlikely to alter any of the plans he arrived with or elevate new ones too high.

2. Henrikh Mkhitaryan could be a thrilling prospect

The Armenia international only played the first half but his short debut contained plenty to get excited about. He moved nimbly and intelligently in the number 10 role, showing the kind of awareness of space that characterises those who have excelled in the Bundesliga in recent years.

The former Borussia Dortmund play-maker has the kind of vision that could unpick defences and bring the flair back to a side that lost it under Louis van Gaal.

3. Shaw must be handled carefully

It was heartening to see England international Luke Shaw take the field again after a 10-month injury absence but expectations must be kept sensible. His double leg fracture last September was a dramatic injury for one so young and a quiet performance here, with an apparent reluctance to burst forward from the back, was to be expected. It may be some time before he is ready to perform at his peak.

4. Mata won't go quietly

The common wisdom was that Mourinho's arrival in Manchester spelled bad news for Juan Mata - who was marginalised then sold to United during the manager's time at Chelsea.

Mkhitaryan's arrival seemed to confirm that but Mata does not seem ready to throw in the towel.

He came on during the interval and within three minutes he had charged down Jussi Jaaskelainen's kick and laid the opening goal on a platter for Will Keane. He continued to combine hard work and awareness and made a solid case for consideration.

5. Eric Bailly has a big role to play

The big Ivorian centre-half was Mourinho's first signing and is thought to have cost around £30million, both indicators that he has his new boss' complete confidence.

Bailly was the outfield player given the most game time against Wigan, managing 82 minutes before being replaced, and looks like he is being prepared for a starting role alongside Chris Smalling.

He had little cause to prove his qualities against the Latics but looked entirely at ease and can expect sterner tests before the big kick-off.

Press Association

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