Today marked the start of the Mourinho era with a win against Bournemouth. No Pogba, the £89 million man. No Smalling, the rock in our defence. But the long awaited debut of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly
The first half wasn’t the greatest of starts for United and seemed very cagey as players from both teams tussled for the ball and it seemed like United couldn’t keep the ball for more than 2 minutes without losing it and couldn’t string 3 together passes. Bournemouth played with the one striker upfront with Bournemouth’s record signing Jordan Ibe giving him regular service. A notable highlight was Blind’s desire to keep his place in the team, with Chris Smalling available for the next match, with a very solid performance alongside Eric Bailly who was making his Premier League Debut. Even though Bournemouth seemed the more dominant side in the first half, it was Juan Mata who broke deadlock after a woeful mistake from the oppositions captain. Mata was sharp and ready to latch on to the ball and then tap it in.
The second half however was a completely different story. United now seemed to be fully awake and saw a lot more of the ball. However unlike last season where there was no penetration, Martial and Rooney looked for the ball into the target man Ibrahimovic, who was also making his premier league debut. Rooney added to his vast tally of premier league goals by a simple header after Martial’s wayward and weak shot found him. But the delight of the second half was truly Ibrahimovic’s debutant goal, from outside the box he hit it sweetly and it just went past the keeper into the bottom right hand corner of the net. A lack of concentration saw us concede from a lightning shot from a Bournemouth defender, obviously going to annoy the perfectionist Mourinho who aimed to win while keeping a clean sheet.
In this match we saw Memphis Depay come on in the last 4 minutes, definitely not enough time for him to have any impact on the course of the game. And I worry that he might not get much game time this season as he has fallen behind Lingard in the pecking order. Mourinho has stated his views on Memphis and has said that he does have a future at Manchester United. Mkhitaryan also appeared on as a sub for Juan Mata but he didn’t see enough of the ball for him to be given a fair judgement neither did he have the time to do anything. It will be interesting to see if the former Dortmund man starts in the starting eleven rather than starting on the bench.
Man of the match definitely goes to Eric Bailly with yet another immense performance for the Red Devils. His physical presence and his pace ensure that he is a perfect fit for the premier leagues physical demand. Would definitely love to see him and Smalling play together and help United to have the best defensive record this season.
By Rameez Rashid