Sport: Old Trafford debuts for Mourinho and his men

Three of Mourinho's new signings made their first starts at Old Trafford on Friday. Photo: Wikipedia

The first Friday night kick off in Premier League history saw Manchester United defeat Southampton 2-0 at Old Trafford. The match also featured debut starts at Old Trafford from three of manager Jose Mourinho’s summer signings.

Newsbeat journalist Alan Kenyon takes a look at how the new recruits fared.

Paul Pogba was impressive on his full debut. Photo: Wikimedia
Paul Pogba was impressive on his full debut. Photo: Wikimedia

Paul Pogba – Pogba returned to Old Trafford wearing the mantle of the world’s most expensive player. Quite an achievement after leaving the same club on a free transfer in 2012 due to lack of opportunities.

While technically not a full debut for Pogba, who featured as a substitute for United during his first spell at the club. The weight of expectation surrounding his high-profile return meant the spotlight was fully focused on him Friday night.

The young French powerhouse got off to an unfortunate start, when he gave the ball away after a miskick in the opening seconds of the game, leading to a Southampton counter attack.

Pogba settled into his normal rhythm after the error and gave an energetic display that saw him involved at both ends of the field. He dominated many of the stats, having the most shots on target, and making the most key passes and interceptions.

Despite his lack of match fitness (after returning from an extended break due to Euro 2016) Pogba managed to last the entire 90 minutes.  His performance built a platform that promises much for the coming season.

Ibrahimovic grabbed the headlines once again. Photo: Wikimedia
Ibrahimovic grabbed the headlines once again. Photo: Wikimedia

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – As is often the case, although much of the focus was on Pogba’s first premier league start, Ibrahimovic managed to steal the show with a brace of goals that underlined his goalscoring pedigree.

The first was a thumping header from the 18-yard spot in the 36th minute after an inviting cross was delivered in by Wayne Rooney.

His second came after a penalty was won by United’s industrious left back Luke Shaw. Ibrahimovic stepped up to coolly convert the penalty in the 52nd minute.

Ibrahimovic’s goals mean he has already scored four times in three games for United this season. The burgeoning partnership between Rooney and Ibrahimovic will please Mourinho and fans alike.

Eric Bailly (pictured in 21) has been a stand out performer. Photo: Wikimedia
Eric Bailly (pictured in 21) has been a standout performer. Photo: Wikimedia

Eric Bailly – Bailly arrived with little fanfare compared to the galactico-style acquisitions of Pogba and Ibrahimovic, but the 30 million pounds Villarreal defender has proven to be just as valuable.

Adding some much-needed steel to the centre of United’s defence, Bailly’s physical presence once again dominated proceedings, against a relatively small Southampton frontline.

As is often the case with defensive performances, the less you notice the player, the better they have done. Such was the case with a confident error free display from Bailly, who continues to impress after being named the man of the match in his last two outings.

Jose Mourinho was also making his Old Trafford debut. Photo: Wikimedia
Jose Mourinho was also making his Old Trafford debut. Photo: Wikimedia

Jose Mourinho (manager) –  Amid the fanfare surrounding Pogba’s arrival, it was easy to forget that Mourinho was taking charge of his first competitive match at the Theatre of Dreams.

Arriving to rapturous applause from the United faithful, Mourinho cut his usual confident figure on the sideline. The Portuguese manager already looks at home as he seeks to wipe away the years of disappointment, since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure.

Having done his transfer business early in the window, Mourinho’s team already looks more settled than his rivals. The big name signings have signalled his intent to restore United to their glory years whatever the cost.

At a club like Manchester United it’s the results that matter, and with three wins from three games, Mourinho and his new recruits are quickly endearing themselves at Old Trafford.

Alan Kenyon
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