The FA Community Shield was an entertaining encounter that saw FA Cup winners Manchester United come away as 2-1 victors over Premier League title winners Leicester City. Neither team was at their best on the day and in fact both teams were very poor for large sections of the game. However Manchester United’s ability to win in an ugly fashion without playing fantastic football will no doubt be credited as another Mourinho masterclass.
Jose Mourinho is the most arrogant man in football. Him and Zlatan Ibrahimovic should get along well at Manchester United. After all neither man did much of anything in Sunday’s encounter but both of them will receive all of the credit for the win. At the start of the summer, Jose Mourinho announced his arrival at Manchester United with the signing of Borussia Dortmund star Henrikh Mkhitaryan for 37 million pounds. Mkhitaryan was the very best player in the German Bundesliga last season and the signing looked to be an excellent one for United. In fact, no one in Manchester United’s current set up can dominate games quite like the Armenian midfielder can. Yet the Portuguese manager still decided to leave him on the bench just like he did to Kevin de Bruyne at Chelsea. When Kevin de Bruyne, one of the most creative midfielders in the world was left on the bench at Chelsea, he became frustrated and went back to the Bundesliga only to a year later pick up Germany’s Player of the Year Award and earn himself a move back to the Premier League with Manchester City. If Jose Mourinho is not careful, the exact same thing will happen with Henrikh Mkhitaryan. It was a slap in the face to play the superstar for the last two minutes of the game when it became evident that Manchester United were going to win. In fact it was a slap in the face and just poor all round management from Mourinho for both Mkhitaryan who he only put on for two minutes, and Juan Mata whom he took off for the last two minutes of the game after already putting him on as a substitute in the 63rd minute. If this kind of arrogance and disrespect for his best players continues at Manchester United, Jose Mourinho will lose the dressing room just like he did at Chelsea and won’t make it far as Manchester United manager at all.
Now let’s get to the match. Besides how arrogant Jose Mourinho is, here are four things The Mastermind learned from Sunday’s FA Community Shield match.
1. Eric Bailly is a defensive beast
So composed on the ball, so strong, so good in the air and so hard to get past, Eric Bailly was a joy to watch in this FA Community Shield encounter. Although he committed three rather unnecessary fouls, he showed exactly why Manchester United purchased him for such a hefty price with a very commanding performance. In 5 things you need to know about Eric Bailly,
I talked about how Bailly commits fouls very often but that it’s all part of his game. It’s part of his inexperience and part of his rough and tough approach to defending but it’s also how he puts a stamp on his opponent and lets them know he means business. The Manchester United defender dominated the defensive third for his team and managed to keep track of Jamie Vardy decently well. The English striker only got past him two times the entire match. The first was towards the end of the second half where Vardy took down a pass perfectly and was headed towards goal until Bailly recovered excellently and made a perfectly timed tackle to sweep the ball out of bounds. The second was when Maroune Fellaini made a foolish error by passing the ball ever so softly towards David De Gea, which Vardy latched onto in a flash for Leicester’s goal. Bailly couldn’t do anything to stop the goal from going in and other than his constant fouling, he hardly put a foot wrong.
2. Leicester City aren’t as strong as last year
It’s probably not a surprise that Leicester City didn’t look up to speed in this match and didn’t look like the same side that won the title last year. They weren’t all that far away from winning the match, but they certainly look to be a side that probably will be far away from winning the title this year. The Foxes really missed N’Golo Kante’s confidence, composure and defensive stability in the middle of the field and it showed massively when Jessie Lingard glided past four defenders from a central area to hit home Manchester United’s first goal of the night. While Jamie Vardy and Daniel Drinkwater were excellent during the match, Riyad Mahrez was much more quiet than he usually is and struggled to find any sort of rhythm or get into the game. Danny Simpson meanwhile had a bad night in defense, making several stupid tackles and picking up a very unnecessary yellow card. Leicester City’s defensive discipline could be a big issue for them this season and with the added amount of games to their schedule, they might find it hard to perform to that same incredibly high standard that they performed to last season.
3. Defensive Stability still the priority for Mou
Jose Mourinho is clearly setting Manchester United up to be a defensively solid unit and clearly cares more about how his side defends than how they attack. The Manchester United manager set his team up decently well to defend against the threat of Vardy, Mahrez and Okazaki and all four defenders plus the goalkeeper looked very comfortable all game long. Luke Shaw’s return was nice to see and hopefully he can have a bigger impact on the team this season while Antonio Valencia filled the right back slot very well and was decent in getting forward to assist Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s late goal. He also clearly wants his defensive midfielders to stay put and focus more on the defensive side of their games as Carrick was barely seen past the halfway line and Maroune Fellaini wasn’t making darting runs into the box as he normally might. All and all, Manchester Untied look like a very defensively solid unit and will certainly be hard to break down in 2016-17.
4. Zlatan and Rooney still a work in progress
It was always going to take time for Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to adjust to each other’s games and develop a sense of rhythm between them, but the two men were both very ineffective on the night. You just have to feel that both Mkhitaryan and Mata would have been able to get more out of Zlatan Ibrahimovic from that number ten role rather than Wayne Rooney, whose game has evolved more into a ‘regista’ central midfielder now. Rooney and Ibrahimovic were never on the same wavelength and did not look like the dream combination that they could have been had they played together five years earlier. However, Manchester United were still able to find that late goal from the head of Ibrahimovic after a Valencia cross.
Although Manchester United were actually quite poor during the FA Community Shield, Mourinho and Ibrahimovic will likely take all the credit for a fantastic first competitive game win in this new era with Manchester United. Jamie Vardy was probably the best player on the pitch after scoring a fantastic goal to equalize for his side after Jesse Lingard opened the scoring for Manchester United, but Ibrahimovic was the hero of the hour after heading home from close range to give Manchester United a 2-1 lead.
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