— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 16, 2016
On Saturday, Jose Mourinho took charge of his first match as Manchester United’s manager.
Mourinho’s men beat their opponents, Championship side Wigan Athletic, 2-0 – In what can only be described a routine win for the Red Devils.
Andreas Pereira and Will Keane both found the back of the net during the second half, securing Mourinho’s first win as a United manager.
Let’s take a look at what we learned from Jose Mourinho’s first game in charge of Manchester United…
Mourinho’s Classic 4-2-3-1 Formation
Jose Mourinho implemented a strong and solid 4-2-3-1 formation, using Fosu-Mensah, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw, and Daley Blind in the back four. James Wilson started as a lone striker, with Memphis Depay, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Jesse Lingard behind him. Holding the midfield were Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick.
The Portuguese manager has deployed this formation throughout his career. It allows the players to lineup in an ordered and solid structure – breaking down the attacks from the opponents.
The formation also allows the players to attack in a fluid and tough motion. Mourinho allowed his fullbacks to move forward in attack, therefore eliminating the use of wingers.
Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick stood solidly in front of the back four and were given the responsibility of dishing out passes towards the trio playing behind the striker. Their creative and technical abilities are crucial in order to perform this role – it is likely that we will see this pair playing together in the future, although Bastian Schweinsteiger would also be perfect to play in this position.
Former United manager, Louis Van Gaal, also tried to implement this formation during his tenure at the club – but it would morph into a 4-1-4-1 during the course of the match, which is not as effective in defense.
It seems that Manchester United will be implementing this 4-2-3-1 formation in their upcoming Barclays Premier League campaign, where they will be looking for a UEFA Champion’s League spot, and possibly some silverware.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a No. 10
Manchester United’s recent signing, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, performed outstandingly well and was a nightmare to the Wigan Athletic defenders.
The £26 million man was also a crucial member for Borussia Dortmund last season, scoring 18 goals and assisting 25 times for the German side.
Henrikh put in a man of the match performance during the first half, almost assisting a goal, pulling off back-heels, flicks, dribbles, and defense shattering through balls.
The midfielder involved himself in almost all of Manchester United’s attacks during the course of the first half, and was eager to show off his skills to the 7,000 United fans who came to watch the match. He almost bagged a goal, but hit the ball with too much power and just missed the crossbar.
The Armenian worked as a number 10, and if this match is anything to go by, he could rival Wayne Rooney for the position.
Jose spoke about Henrikh’s abilities on MUTV. The Portuguese man stated:
“Mkhitaryan is a top-class player and currently at the best stage for a footballer – 27/28 years old. He is magnificent the way he thinks about football, he thinks very quickly and it’s so sweet how he touches the ball.
“He can play in different positions behind the striker. He doesn’t have the sharpness yet but his performance was very positive.”
If Henrikh can continue playing like this, then Wayne Rooney will have to find a new position – possibly next to the striker, forcing Mourinho to implement a 4-2-2-2 formation.
Jose Mourinho loves the touchline
The new Manchester United boss spent more time in the technical area than he did on the bench. This is something that Louis Van Gaal never did, and something that the former United manager was criticized for during his reign.
Jose voiced his orders loud and clear, making sure that the players listened and adhered to his commands. The Portuguese looked energetic and eager to relay his messages to the players, who followed them – resulting in a 2-0 win for the Red Devils.
Mourinho was interviewed by MUTV after the match, where he stated:
“The result obviously is not the most important thing but is also important.
“I’m happy with things that we tried in training. Some principles of our play defensively and offensively, that we work on in training and I could see them there.”
It is fantastic to see a manager who is eager and actively performs his duties. The Manchester United fans have been waiting for a young and energetic manager, with new ideas and philosophies.
Jose Mourinho looks like a changed man, although we might get a glimpse of his old habits as the season goes by. The Portuguese man isn’t one to shy away from controversies – he will voice his opinions no matter what the circumstances.
Mourinho gives Youth a chance to impress
The Portuguese manager has given his Youth Squad players a chance to shine before he begins his final preparations for the new Barclays Premier League season.
Jose gave a chance to Fosu-Mensah, Jesse Lingard, Sam Johnstone, James Wilson, Will Keane, and Andreas Pereira – the last two scoring the match-winning goals.
The Portuguese man stated in his first Manchester United press conference that he will be giving his Youth players a chance to impress in the first team, and he kept his promise during United’s first pre-season match.
Andreas Pereira greatly impressed the crowd with his performance. The youngster played in a central midfield role, picking out crucial passes and supporting the attackers.
Mourinho spoke about Pereira with MUTV, he said: “Andreas has lots of talent, he has incredible vision and an incredible technique.”
Axel Tuanzebe is also another Youth product that impressed during his cameo. Mourinho told the media that he only needed “10 minutes” to see the impressive potential of 18-year-old centre-back:
“You can play 90 minutes or one minute, sometimes one minute is enough. With Axel, 10 minutes is enough – I only needed 10 minutes to know his potential, you can see it immediately.”