If one has a look at the Manchester United fan’s twitter account you would get a feeling that Louis Van Gaal is still in charge of the club and the feeling of helplessness still persists. It is rather odd that the fans are treating this game and its result as anything close to an official match. This was a pre-season game against a team which has already played few games and are further ahead in the progression of their pre-season while United was missing at least four of their expected starters in the team. The whole aim of having the pre-season fixtures is so that the players have some valuable on-field hours against a competitive opposition and parallelly build up some kind of strategies and personnel evaluation.
There was no doubt that United was beaten hands down by Borussia Dortmund as the score reflects but it was expected, even by Jose Mourinho. He conceded that his team was the weaker one on the given day and he expected it:
“The team that wins is always the one in advance preparation and it was too obvious. A team with four matches vs one with one, who have been together for 15 days – the difference is huge but nobody likes to lose. I am happy with the 90 minutes we have in our legs especially with the weather and the opponent.”
He also stressed on the fact that it is important to face a difficult opposition to testing yourselves rather than glorifying easy wins
“Some people prefer to play against lower quality teams and win to get confidence out of it. Sometimes its confidence out of context and out of reality. When you’re playing a team like Borussia Dortmund, that starts before us and, of course, are one of the good teams in Europe, it is obviously more difficult.”
However, he also confessed that in spite of it only being a friendly, a loss is a loss and it hurts:
“The players are frustrated as nobody likes to lose. Even if you say it’s not a problem, you don’t like to lose – even in friendlies. In reality, I was expecting a very difficult match.”
But Mourinho is not the one to only look at the negatives. He focussed on what he really expected out of these 90 minutes as well
“At the moment, I’m not even creating a team, so many players are not here. We’re creating individuals’ form and trying to bring these players to a good condition. For the new signings and all of the players, they had a chance to play 45, 70 or 90 minutes. It’s very, very important and I can imagine it will take a long time to recover from this effort in the game. In this weather, in reality, at this stage of pre-season for them individually it’s good.”
Ander Herrera spoke at length post match and was focussed on getting the right fitness levels before the season begins
“New guys are very comfy on the pitch but we are a team, we want to be all fit as soon as possible. Yesterday we trained two times so we can feel it on the pitch!”
Along with that, he also gave a little sneak peek (which might have been a possible little dig at the previous United manager) in to what can be expected out of United’s game play this season and to fan’s delight, it did not sound anything that has been on display for the past couple seasons.
“I think we know what we have to do. Every player is very clear. We want very aggressive players in the midfield, we want to attack and I think we are going to see a very offensive Man Utd but of course we need to be compact we can do that as well.
“I don’t want to talk about the past. The most important thing for Man Utd are the things that are happening now. We want to get the ball to attack and create as many chances as possible. You have seen we had some chances but we are just not fit enough yet. Compact, attack, aggressive and finish the chances.”
The target for him, however, are set and they are ambitious
“The most important thing is later because we are Man Utd and we have to win everything.”
Along with his thoughts on the game, Mourinho also gave the media a glimpse of his transfer ideas
“We are completely convinced of our market.”
With the result going against his team, one would think the manager might have second thoughts about what is needed and what needs to be changed. But Mourinho seems to be convinced that the “Fundamental” market, which includes four players: one central defender, one midfielder, one striker and one creative player and is 75% completed, should be enough as of now.
“When we finish that fundamental market we are balanced. Maybe today you don’t feel it but no Ibrahimovic, no Fellaini, no Martial, no Schneiderlin, so lots of them that are not here yet.”
Anything apart from that will be solely decided on how things go between the season start and end of transfer window.
“Then the market will be open until August 31 and sometimes things happen you are not expecting for and you have to forget but our fundamental market is 75% done and when we sign one midfield player the crucial work will all be done.”
The Manchester City game, which is currently under the threat of getting cancelled due to bad weather conditions, will be another stern test for Mourinho’s pupils. But the manager himself doesn’t think the game and especially the result will matter a lot, as it is just another friendly game.
“Not for me. I’m not with a special emotion to play against City. Against them at Old Trafford or Man City or in Wembley, but not in a pre-season friendly.”
It might not have been the result that he or the fans wished for but new United manager has his focus and targets decided. The players and the manager have a little more than two weeks left before the Community Shield and the time needs to be well utilized to get the players back to their match fitness. It is the start of a(nother) new era at Manchester United and lets hope Mourinho takes it in the right direction.