Manchester United and Jose Mourinho are back to their winning ways after the rude awakening, that was the Borussia Dortmund game. With Mourinho fielding his strongest team it was expected that the Red Devils will pass the Galatasaray test with flying colors, and so they did. However, it was not as straight forward as the full-time score makes it out to be. United was actually trailing at the halftime and the first half performance, barring the sensational Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s first goal in the United jersey, was abysmal.
The second half, however, started off much better and got even better as the time progressed. Mourinho made a lot of changes during half-time and also later on, in order to give most of his team members some minutes on the pitch. The gameplay in the second half was several notches above the one in the first and so was the intensity. One could see the eagerness and hunger to overcome the deficit. Antonio Valencia stood out with three assists while Juan Mata and Memphis Depay, too, sparkled in the limited time that they had. But the difference in the first half and second half performance was the key and Marouane Fellaini was quick to credit the new United manager with it.
“Mourinho said something at half time. We reacted. All the players want to give everything for him.”
But Mourinho doesn’t think it’s the result which is important, even if it is as dominating as it was today. While talking post-match, he said
“The most important thing was to play to give minutes to the players. The ones that played less than 30 minutes and there are others who have played 60 or 65, they need to play. We lost a week in China and some of the boys that played today had trained two days.”
“We made the decision to give them 45 minutes of the game, feeling it would be better for their development than a double training session, so that’s the most important thing. There’s not a lot of time to work, to change, to make a couple of new ideas and new principles of play, everything is step by step and the reality is we don’t have this time.”
But what made Mourinho happy if not the results? The Portuguese was quick to point out his takeaways from the game today.
“I am happy with the intensity of the game. I am happy with the mistakes we made, I’m really happy with the mistakes we made because you work on the mistakes, I’m really happy with the good things we did too, I’m happy with the spirit, I’m happy with the atmosphere.”
Mourinho also confirmed that he will use the same approach for Wayne Rooney’s testimonial game on Wednesday.
“Wednesday, we’re at Old Trafford for Rooney [testimonial] for our fans and I will do the same as today. I will play 22 players, I don’t care about the result too much, I want to give minutes to everyone.”
The manager was also candid and explained his reasoning behind the inclusion and usage of these 22 players. For him, it is this group which is “in his plans” and hence are the ones included and playing in the game. HE focussed on the part, that not all players will be played all the time, some might play more and some less, all depending upon the squad and strategies.
“If they were not in my plans I would not give them one single minute, I would not keep them in my squad.
“The squad is very competitive, the squad is very important for the season. We have 38 matches in the Premier League, we have the possibility of 15 matches in the Europa League, plus domestic cups, we are going to play 60 matches. So with 60 matches we cannot do it with 11 players.
“So to be in the squad you have to understand that the squad is more important than the individual, the club is more important than all of us, and to be in the squad you have to be ready for this, to play, not to play, play a lot, play less, play 90 minutes, play one minute, not be selected, everything is part of a squad life. And if you want to be in a club like we are, the club is much more important than us.”
This basically might be curtains for some of the players who were excluded from the squad today and the fans will know more once the squad for Rooney’s testimonial is announced.
Marcus Rashford was one of the players which impressed a lot in the second half and his manager, too, acknowledged his efforts and talent that he has.
“Marcus showed glimpses of the things he can bring us. I’m happy out of such a big group we have just two little injuries.”
Another big highlight of the game was its opening goal. Zlatan took just four minutes to show the world or at least the United fans, what they can expect throughout the season. It must have impressed a lot of spectators but more importantly also the manager. Mourinho, when asked about it said
Mourinho on Zlatan: "Ibra showed glimpses of the things he can bring us." #MUTOUR
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 30, 2016
And it was again Zlatan who will take all the headlines tomorrow (or tonight) when he brought up Paul Pogba’s United move.
“If Pogba comes as well it’ll be more interesting, we’ll see, there’s something great being built here.”
Zlatan: "If Pogba comes as well it'll be more interesting, we'll see, there's something great being built here" pic.twitter.com/Z7C6W9Rkq3
— Jonas Giæver (@CheGiaevara) July 30, 2016
He did use the phrase “If Pogba comes” but it was he who, apparently, brought Pogba up, not the reporter. Just goes to show that it’s now a matter of “when” rather than “if”.
Mourinho’s next challenge now is Rooney’s testimonial game which will also be the manager’s first game as the United boss at Old Trafford. It will be an exciting prospect for the home fans and it would be interesting how he reacts to the reception that he gets. The season gets another day closer!