Storm clouds remain heavy over Manchester United with even this vital opening Premier League victory against Leicester City failing to lift the dark mood of Jose Mourinho.
Goals from Paul Pogba and Luke Shaw – which felt strangely appropriate given the uncertainty over their futures under Mourinho – were not enough for the manager to move on from his burning sense that he has been badly let down this summer by the club’s hierarchy.
Post-match and Mourinho was talking failed transfer targets and tricky pre-seasons – again – and he made a barbed comment about how managers nowadays should all be re-defined as head coaches such is the power they have had to cede to their clubs. A bit like the fable of the scorpion and the fox he just cannot help himself.
Goodness knows what Mourinho’s reaction would have been had United lost to a reshaped Leicester who preyed on that uncertainty and pushed and pushed before scoring in injury-time through substitute Jamie Vardy. The final play of the match was United watching nervously as a header from a Leicester corner, and with goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel in the home penalty area, drifted wide.
The match itself was a microcosm of how Mourinho is perceived. It was either an important, encouraging win earned through managing the depleted resources available to him – for example using 22-year-old attacking midfielder such as Andreas Pereira in a deeper role – or another example that they are a maddeningly constrained curiosity given the vast resources available to them. They won; but they did not win convincingly.
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