Following Manchester United’s dramatic 2-1 win over Leicester City in the Community Shield at Wembley, manager Jose Mourinho dedicated the victory to former manager Louis van Gaal. And he is right to do so. The only reason United were in this match was because of Van Gaal’s FA Cup-winning side last season. Though the Community Shield win is not given the prestige of winning the Premier League or FA Cup, it still gives United momentum heading into the start of the regular season at Bournemouth next Sunday.
“First of all, if you’ll allow me, I want to dedicate the victory to Louis van Gaal.
“Because without him we wouldn’t be here today celebrating. We won the FA Cup, it allows us to be back, it allows us to have one more trophy.
“I have won many trophies for other managers to win after me, after I left the club, and nobody remembers that. But I remember this trophy I won because someone won before me.
“And I dedicate to my the seven players who were not involved, the players that worked really hard, and deserved to be [in the squad] but I had to make choices, and sometimes choices that hurt me.
“It hurt me to see people like Depay, Jones, Ashley Young, all of them there. But they are a team, everyone is happy.”
Defeating the reigning Premier League champions will help the Red Devils get a morale boost after a sub-par summer tour in China. United needed to make the most of the game against a fully loaded Leicester, which the Red Devils eventually did after a tactical start to the first half. United held a majority of the possession but could not pull ahead on the scoreboard until a wonderful run from Jesse Lingard found the midfielder one-on-one with Kasper Schmeichel where Lingard slipped the ball past the Danish keeper. After Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed home what would prove to be the winner, United was forced to defend heavily, which frightened Mourinho and co.
“In the first-half, we were very stable, we were always in control.
“In the second-half, I knew that would happen [Leicester would improve] because we are not fit enough and we have people on the pitch that have been working for a week and the intensity of the game changed.
“It was difficult for us to cope with it but then I had the chance to make changes. I think I brought three players that gave us stability in the game, Rojo, Mata and Herrera and we recovered the balance, and then of course we scored. There was a bit of luck but we were very much in control.
“The last five minutes were a nightmare. [Kasper] Schmeichel was a keeper but for sure he watched some videos of his dad. Claudio [Ranieri] brought on [Leonardo] Ulloa, they had a right-back who I thought was Rory Delap but it wasn’t, it was [Luiz] Hernandez, who threw the ball 50 metres into the box and the last minutes were really difficult.
“I know I did something that is not nice to do, to take Mata off in the last-minute. But now he’s fine because he understands what I did. I couldn’t take Fellaini or Ibra off, they were important to be on the pitch for the Rory Delap throws.”
Mourinho is correct to give credit to Van Gaal, and it shows a sign of modesty and humbleness from a manager notorious with self-centeredness. United is set to re-sign Paul Pogba in the coming days to add to Mourinho’s own version of United. Signings Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have already proved themselves as worthy with fantastic performances from Bailly and two goals in as many games for Ibrahimovic. As much as this is a bulk of Van Gaal’s team, this is quickly becoming Mourinho’s team.