Bournemouth vs Manchester United: Five things we learnt from Jose Mourinho's first league game in charge

Rooney, despite his goal, will have to do better, while Bailly looks more than ready

Mark Critchley
Vitality Stadium
Sunday 14 August 2016 18:11
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Good start for Mourinho and United

Rooney earns stay of execution

During his time at Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho wore a custom-made, sapphire crystal watch inscribed with the words 'I am not afraid of the consequences of my decisions'.

His first few months at Manchester United will present him with one of the most important calls of his stay.

It is hard to see how Wayne Rooney and Paul Pogba will operate alongside each other in anything but adverts for the club’s official lubricant partner.

A 4-3-3 would get the best out of the world’s most expensive player, who was suspended today, but would also entail sacrificing the captain.

Rooney’s goal masked an underwhelming performance. If he is dropped at some point this season, there will be consequences and, unfortunately for Rooney, his new manager can handle them.

Mata has the appetite to earn his place

When the teamsheets were released at the Vitality Stadium, Juan Mata’s inclusion was a surprise.

Nemanja Matic has not yet recovered from the ignominy of being a subbed substitute under Mourinho last October. When the same fate befell the Spaniard at Wembley last Sunday, it did not bode well.

On this showing, however, Mata will respond. He was a player with a point to prove, harrying Simon Francis until the ball broke his way for the first goal.

This kind of character was seldom seen under Louis van Gaal. Players were indulged, then they sulked.

As demeaning as Mourinho’s treatment of Mata was last week, it has appeared to work.

More business like Bailly is needed

Any lingering doubts over whether Eric Bailly is ready for a regular starting place were put to bed at the Vitality Stadium.

Looking far from an apprentice, he was the dominant defensive presence in a team that still too often relies on its goalkeeper.

Mourinho has talked about 'supplementary' signings following the 'fundamental' business he has already carried out. He would do well to find another centre-back who can slot in as well as Bailly.

Mark Critchley: Eric Bailly impresed

Daley Blind, who came in for the suspended Chris Smalling, put in a comfortable performance but he is limitations are obvious.

With him and Phil Jones as cover, it’s easy to see why United are in the market for another defender.

Bournemouth's other Cook should not be overlooked

Much of the home supporters’ pre-match attention was focused on the new signing Lewis Cook, who at Leeds United was tipped as a future England international.

It was Steve, however, his namesake in the centre of defence, who staked a proper claim for place on Sam Allardyce’s long-list.

The 25-year-old defender is a top-flight regular in his prime who poses a threat from set-pieces and is comfortable bringing the ball out of the back. He should not be ignored for much longer.

Zlat's all, folks

Zlatan Ibrahimovic likes to be the centre of attention, yet in each of his performances so far, he has played largely on the peripheries.

Both in the Community Shield and here, he went about his business quietly, his influence not fully felt until he found the back of the net.

Those who were expecting a tour de force to arrive from Paris may be surprised but, after all’s said and done, the end result is the same.

It’s as if his presence is too great not to make an impact. The Eric Cantona comparisons come easy.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments