Monday 26 September 2016

You'd hardly believe who Jose Mourinho dedicated Man United's Community Shield win to

Tom Rooney

Published 07/08/2016 | 20:18

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho after winning the FA Community Shield Reuters / Eddie Keogh
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho after winning the FA Community Shield Reuters / Eddie Keogh

When the narrative is developing to his liking, Jose Mourinho can be disarmingly charming, so much so that one might willingly forget previous transgressions.

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Perhaps not. Too much contaminated water has trudged under the bridge, in four countries no less. But, unequivocally, the silverware mounts, even if the now standard implosion predictably follows.

Today at Wembley, Manchester United won their first competitive game since Mourinho replaced his former mentor, Louis van Gaal, at the helm.

Indeed, in his post match interview, following Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s late headed winner against Leicester City in United's 2-1 Community Shield victory, Van Gaal was among the unexpected recipients of the Portuguese’s gratitude.

United were there because, in his last act with the club, Van Gaal had led them to an FA Cup win over Crystal Palace at the same stadium. The first trophy of the post Alex Ferguson era.

Still, the Dutchman was never able to fully celebrate the win because news of Mourinho’s imminent arrival had been distastefully leaked.

Mourinho was still transitioning from translator to coach when Van Gaal took over from Bobby Robson at Barcelona, where they enjoyed an excellent relationship.

Aside from Van Gaal, Mourinho thanked members of his squad who didn’t feature.

Interestingly, he chose not to start Henrikh Mkhitaryan, despite performing well in preseason, and, instead, opted for Jesse Lingard, who opened the scoring with a fine goal.

“I want to dedicate this victory to eight persons. Seven of my players who were not selected, because they weren't but they deserved to be.

"And for the person who allows us to be here today, which is Louis van Gaal, because he won the FA Cup and without him we wouldn't be here now celebrating."

Jamie Vardy equalised for Leicester soon after the break, having been a willing beneficiary of a lax pass from Marouane Fellaini – whether the Belgian has a long term future at Old Trafford remains to be seen.

Mourinho was not overly impressed by his side’s overall display and, once again, lamented their disjointed preseason, namely the calamitous tour of China, which saw an improvised outdoor press conference and their International Champions Cup tie with Manchester City cancelled due to weather conditions.

"I would not be ambitious if I said we had a fantastic performance, because it was not a fantastic performance. It was a possible performance for the moment of the season, some of these guys who played today had only one week of training.

"No pre-season in China, a very bad pre-season, so I think step by step we are changing, but I think it's always important to start with a trophy," he said.

Additional reporting by PA

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