Jose Mourinho suffered his first defeat at his new job as Manchester United were beaten 4-1 by Bundesliga runners-up Borussia Dortmund.
There were some interesting storylines ahead of Manchester United’s tour opener in Shanghai against Borussia Dortmund with a host of players facing off against their former club including new United signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The night ended in disaster, though, as United crumbled to a 4-1 defeat to Dortmund, marking Mourinho’s first loss as the Red Devils manager. Jose Mourinho would have a lot to analyse from the game and make some key decisions regarding the personnel currently in the squad.
We take a look at some major talking points that came out of the match.
1. Memphis Depay is not a striker
The Dutch winger was deployed as a striker on a few occasions by former United boss Louis Van Gaal which led to some ordinary performances from Depay. Jose Mourinho looked to have not learnt from his mentor’s mistakes as he chose Depay to start as the lone striker up front against Borussia Dortmund. The gamble failed as Depay was unable to keep a hold on the ball with the Borussia Dortmund defenders easily having their way with him.
The 22-year old had to move wide on occasions to get involved in the game and frankly looked more comfortable out wide than down the middle. He had started as a winger in their previous friendly against Wigan and despite the vast difference in terms of squad quality of their two opponents, the Dutchman had looked more menacing in his usual role. Jose Mourinho has little time to experiment in order to seek out his best XI before the first match of the season and he won’t be getting it right soon enough by playing players like Depay out of their natural position.
2. Time is up for Phil Jones and Antonio Valencia
Phil Jones was hailed as the future successor to John Terry as England captain but the central defender has failed to live up to his potential after making the move to Manchester United. At the age of 24, there is little room for the United faithful to be patient with the former “wonderkid” who was found wanting at the centre of the defense as Dortmund rampaged through.
The central defender was at fault in two out of the four goals conceded with fans and pundits alike pointing out the lapse of concentration that led to the chances. Jose Mourinho will not accept such mistakes as he looks to get Manchester United back to the top of English football. Phil Jones’ struggles in the game against Dortmund is an indicator that a transfer away would be beneficial to both the player and the club.
Antonio Valencia is a winger who was converted into a make-shift right back by Sir Alex Ferguson. The Ecuadorian will always struggle in this position against top teams as evident by his performance against Borussia Dortmund. Valencia was made to look silly by the Bundesliga club’s attackers which put more pressure on Jesse Lingard to come back and help the right-back. The winger must play regularly in his natural position as a wide attacker and he might have to switch clubs to do that.
3. Ousmane Dembele already looks like a world-beater
Borussia Dortmund’s newest signing Ousmane Dembele stole the show with his dazzling runs and scored Dortmund’s third goal of the match after another one of his mazy runs. The forward continuously troubled the United defence which had no answer for the player’s pace and trickery.
Ousmane Dembele has quickly been tipped to be as successful in his debut season with Dortmund as fellow Frenchman Anthony Martial was with United last season. The former Rennes man is highly rated all across Europe and his performance against United in Shanghai gave everyone a glimpse of what the future holds for the French U21 forward.
4. Impactful Mata might convince Mourinho
Jose Mourinho has reportedly told Juan Mata that he must accept his role as a squad rotation player if he is to stay at Manchester United and has told the player that he will be playing one out of every 3 matches. The Portuguese has told Mata he must fight to earn his place in the starting XI and the Spaniard seems to be doing just that.
Even though every United player struggled to have an impact in a very poor overall performance by the club, Juan Mata managed to make himself be seen in the eyes of his manager by providing an unselfish assist to new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan. This makes it two assists for the Spaniard in two pre-season games after he provided a similar assist to academy product Will Keane in the previous friendly against Wigan.
If the little magician keeps on producing the goods on the pitch, there is no reason for the Portuguese manager to hold the Spaniard back from attaining a starting role for United.
5. Dortmund look like a well-oiled machine under Thomas Tuchel
Many believed that the departure of Jurgen Klopp would spell the stagnation of the project at Borussia Dortmund but Thomas Tuchel has successfully continued the process after taking over from the current Liverpool manager. The 2016-17 season will be his second season in charge of Der BVB and he would be looking to mount a title challenge in a bid to dethrone Bayern Munich atop the Bundesliga.
Even though the thrashing of Manchester United could be credited to a longer pre-season training programme which resulted in the Dortmund players being fitter and in better shape to tackle the heat in Shanghai, Dortmund looks like a compact team on the pitch. The side seems to be responding well to Thomas Tuchel’s management and the new signings have also seemed to have bought in on the manager’s tactics.
This may be too early to call but judging by the team’s chemistry and cohesion in the pre-season, the 2016-17 Bundesliga might turn out to be an exciting one for the Dortmund fans.