Manchester United ran away 3-1 winners against Bournemouth to kick off the Mourinho era with a win.
There were a lot of story-lines that captured the imagination of the fans in the game at Dean Court. Here we take a look at a few positives and negatives.
There couldn’t possibly be a better headline for Monday’s papers than Juan Mata scoring the first goal of the Mourinho era at Manchester United. The duo have been known to be at crossroads since their time at Chelsea, when the Spaniard was benched for Oscar and ultimately sold to Manchester United. Mata was reportedly linked with the likes of Everton and Villarreal but Mourinho has come out and said the Spaniard still has a future at the club. Mata had an impact in pre-season and was handed a surprise start by Mourinho against Bournemouth. The 28-year-old repaid the faith as he latched on to a poor pass from Francis before slotting it home to give United the lead in the first half.
Mourinho was forced to play Daley Blind due to Chris Smalling’s absence. But the Dutchman gave a wonderful performance at the centre of defence and will give the Portuguese manager more selection headaches when Smalling comes back. Blind won all his duels on the pitch and staked a claim for a starting spot in the United lineup.
The full-back was probably the best player on the pitch for Bournemouth and was the most efficient player, both defensively and going forward. The 25-year-old was a constant threat going forward and capped off his performance with a wonderful goal, cutting inside the box before a strong and neatly placed shot from his wrong foot. Adam Smith was Bournemouth’s man of the match and Eddie Howe would hope the full-back builds on this strong start to the season on an individual front.
If Juan Mata’s goal provided the best of headlines, Simon Francis’ part in the goal was not far away, albeit in a completely opposite way. Eddie Howe entrusted the 31-year-old with the captain’s armband before the start of the season but Francis suffered probably the worst start to the campaign. Francis gifted Mata the ball after a weak attempt at a pass back to goalkeeper Artur Boruc, but the Polish keeper had it covered before another deflection from the defender put the ball in Mata’s path with an empty net to score United’s opener. It all went downhill from that as Bournemouth were unable to recover from the mistake. They have been susceptible to defensive mistakes last season, being the second leakiest defence ahead of only Aston Villa, and it seems like nothing has changed in the new season.
The new signing from Liverpool had shown promise in pre-season but seemed out-of-sorts during his time on the pitch. The player is known for his pace and ability to go past defenders but did not show much of it. He was mostly seen cutting inside to find some space for himself but failed to do so. There wasn’t much room for the players and Ibe struggled to show his skills, which in part is due to the performance of the United defenders. Eddie Howe would hope Ibe comes back strong from this disappointment and proves to be a good signing for his club.
It was heartening to see Callum Wilson start for Bournemouth after the English striker was riddled with injuries last season. There is hope that he will be able to show his true form if he isn’t troubled with injuries in the season. Even though Wilson looked sharp and fit, he couldn’t do much to influence the results and was largely ineffective against the United defence.