Manchester United defeated Leicester City by 2-1 at Old Trafford in the first game of the Premier League season.
Goals from Paul Pogba in the first half and Luke Shaw in the second saw Mourinho’s men get the better of a promising Leicester City side in the campaign’s curtain raiser.
Let’s take a look at five things we learned as United kicked off with a victory.
1) United Did Their Talking On The Pitch & In A Big Way
Much was made of Manchester United’s relative mediocre during their pre-season campaign. Mourinho came out and criticised the players at times, there was a lack of major transfer activity throughout and it seemed as though it all could lead to the perfect storm of an opening day defeat for United.
But in truth on the field Mourinho’s men delivered and although it wasn’t a world beating performance it was a strong opening day victory over a top half team and considering the difficult summer, that’s certainly something to be admired.
It’s also important to note that United will get stronger once the likes of Lukaku, Young and Matic are fully integrated back into the squad.
2) Leicester’s James Maddison Will Be A Player To Watch This Season
Signed from Championship side Norwich City for £22 million, James Maddison impressed on his Premier League debut at Old Trafford. Still only 21-years of age, Maddison proved to be one of Leicester City’s stand out performers, finding space in between the United midfield and defence on numerous occasions.
Maddison’s range of passing and confidence on the ball was clear to see and he could’ve easily grabbed a goal himself had it not been for David De Gea.
The most telling aspect of Maddison’s performance was perhaps the way in which his side missed him popping up in space when he came off around the 60th minute. Leicester went flat and never really looked like grabbing an equaliser before United got their second in Maddison’s absence.
3) Mourinho Had A World Class Centre Back Right Under His Nose In The Shape Of Eric Bailly
With all the talk of Mourinho and United’s pursuit of a world-class centre-back during the transfer window, it’s easy to forget about the quality that the club already possess in that position. Look no further than Eric Bailly’s performance tonight.
Credit where credit’s due Victor Lindelof was very good also and despite conceding late, Eric Bailly was one of United’s best performers, getting the better of a potentially lively Kelechi Iheanacho on more than one occasion.
Bailly was quick, strong in the tackle and commanding in the air throughout this game. He showed glimpses of his quality last campaign but if he can stay fit, then maybe Manchester United will get their world-class centre-half after all.
4) This Could Be The Season Where Paul Pogba Finally Arrives
It’s important to reiterate in this instance that in no way did Paul Pogba have a bad season last year. He wasn’t one of the league’s stand-out players, but he was nowhere near as bad as many detractors would allow you to believe.
Against Leicester however, and to some extent at the World Cup, the French man showed real signs that this could be his true breakout season.
A confidently dispatched penalty and a swashbuckling midfield performance, Pogba stepped up to his role as captain and was one of the best players on the Old Trafford pitch. Mourinho will be hoping that this display will be a sign of things to come.
5) Claude Puel Could Be The Right Man For Leicester’s Future
Despite the defeat, Leicester City were the better side in the first half of this game, and although United grew into it, Puel can take great heart from the way in which his team confidently kept the ball against a top-four team away from home.
The former Southampton boss came under much scrutiny last season with many Leicester fans feeling that following Ranieri’s sacking, Puel simply wasn’t the right man for the job.
This performance and the way in which Leicester have blended talented young players with experienced quality in their starting XI could be an indication that Puel’s perseverance at the King Power is finally paying off. Should his side perform as valiantly as they did at Old Trafford every week, then they could end up having a very strong campaign.