Jose Mourinho has revealed that Wayne Rooney and Paul Pogba had a discussion, and decided to give the penalty duty to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Rooney has been United’s first choice penalty taker for many years now, but willingly gave Zlatan the responsibility when Luke Shaw was brought down by a rash challenge from Jordi Clasie.
Ibrahimovic duly converted the penalty to give United a 2-0 cushion against Southampton. It was also his second goal of the night.
“I designated three – Paul, Wayne and Zlatan – but sometimes I like the players to have the feeling ‘this is for me’,” he said.
“Wayne and Paul told themselves ‘Zlatan, when a penalty comes you are the first. If you don’t want to take it for some reason we are here, but you are the man. Between them they made that decision.”
The way Mourinho makes his decisions on who takes United’s spot-kicks is in stark comparison to his predecessor Louis van Gaal, who had a system where if a player missed a penalty, they would fall down the order of players who got to take them. Last season, it was Rooney, Mata and Herrera who took them.
Known for his rigidity in every aspect of management, Van Gaal’s method of selecting a spot-kick taker was that a player had to suffer the consequence of missing a penalty he was trusted to take.
United got their Premier League campaign off to the perfect start, winning both their games. Their first game at Old Trafford saw new signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, and Eric Bailly start for their home debuts. Henrikh Mkhitaryan also made his debut from the bench, coming on in the latter stages of the game.
The Red Devils beat Southampton 2-0, with both goals coming from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Mourinho is keen to shred all memory of United’s disastrous fall from grace since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, and couldn’t have asked for a better start. He also made his first appearance in the Old Trafford dugout in a competitive fixture, having managed United in Wayne Rooney’s testimonial before the start of the season.