Manchester United’s two iconic additions stole the headlines in the Community Shield win over Leicester; the former for substituting substitute Juan Mata, the latter for scoring the goal that secured the Big Swede his 31st piece of silverware in his illustrious career.But while they take home the trophy, it can’t disguise that United are still well away from the blueprint Mourinho will want this season.The Community Shield provided the first competitive glimpse of how the EPL champions would cope as the hunted, against the powerhouse re-charging with all the bluster of a club in a hurryBeyond the headlines, both Mourinho and Claudio Ranieri learned plenty about their sides.Mourinho paid tribute to Louis van Gaal after the match, with United’s qualification coming from the FA Cup the Dutchman won in the days before his sacking – and there were hallmarks of his tenure still for all to see at Wembley.Before the final, Mourinho said, alluding to the habits ingrained by van Gaal: “We try to improve everything, we use every minute we have to improve the players and especially to improve the principles of how we play as a team, but it is very difficult,” Mourinho said. “It would be easier to get 20 new players and start with them from zero than to get a squad that was previously with a top manager but with different ideas than mine. It’s difficult to change the way we analyse the defensive organisation, it’s difficult to organise a team in the first phases of the build-up that plays so differently.
“Sometimes we all feel that contradiction between what they are used to doing and what they want to do, and that, from the mental point of view is not easy to adapt to. So we need time. I cannot tell you that we are going to start the season at 100 miles per hour.“If you are a right-back or a left-back and every time you have the ball you pass to a central defender and you repeat that for two years…”Now Mourinho’s challenge is to stop deferring to the van Gaal era and accelerate his own.Here are the main observations from The Community Shield.
ZLATAN KNOWS A HEADLINE, BUT HE’S STILL GOT WORK TO DO
Truthfully, Ibra had been quite poor for the duration of the game, not just in the understandable lack of cohesion with teammates. He grew frustrated with himself for some poor touches, retreated deeply to get involved and snapped at a couple of half chances.But this is a football phenomenon we’re talking about, and with the game on the line, he had the poise to rise and nod the winning goal home.
ROONEY WILL PROVIDE A CONUNDRUM
Mention it quietly, but with Rooney in the No.10 position, a number of good looking raids broke down with his rustiness. His endeavour, as ever, couldn’t be questioned, but pressure is definitely going to rise as Henrikh Mkhtaryian vies for a spot in the XI and Jesse Lindgaard’s impressive form continues. A knock taken by goal scorer Lingaard might provide Mourinho with an early escape from a selection headache.
UNITED STILL SLIGHTLY PONDEROUS, BUT THERE’S A SOLUTION
Mourinho admits his team isn’t at full functionality yet, but there were still positive signs – none more so than Lingaard’s decision to drive forward from the heart of midfield towards to score the opening goal.Mourinho must hope that kind of initiative, plus more confidence and progressive play from the likes of Rooney and Anthony Martial to capitalise on possession, will grow in coming weeks.“Zlatan will be more dangerous when we are more dominant and play closest to the box,” Mourinho said.“Zlatan is not a very fast player to play 50 metres away from the box like where Vardy can be dangerous. Zlatan needs the team to play, he needs the team to produce and he needs the team to be arriving in the final third. It’s something that we also have to change because the profile of this team was more about possession of the ball.“Even arriving in crossing positions, the team normally plays back again and tries to change to the other side. We are trying to change. The reality is the second goal is a great example of that.”The imminent arrival of Paul Pogba chances the equation seismically. The Frenchman will add cut and thrust alongside either Michael Carrick or Marouane Fellaini in the middle of the park, and judging by the Belgian’s erratic performance, Mourinho would be wise to use his veteran Englishman’s calming influence alongside his midfield engine room.
Eric Bailly also adjusted well after a nervy start, showing excellent poise against a fired up Jamie Vardy.
Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw look set to play a crucial role for Mourinho this season in linking with the creative men in front of them, while providing the side’s genuine width. Both got forward with regularity at Wembley.
DON’T WRITE OFF LEICESTER
A first glance at Leicester re-affirms that it is unfair to dismiss their credibility. They sat in two composed banks of four in the first-half that made it difficult for United to break down and arguably had the better run of play in the minutes leading up to Lingaard’s run, with some incisive attacking raids.Plan A still remains their modus operandi – win the ball back and buzz forward at a frantic pace. Vardy looks in stellar form already, Riyad Mahrez was just as tasty in his fleeting involvements – and that’s pivotal to executing last year’s counter attacking game plan again.
BUT THEY DO HAVE MORE VARIETY
It’s treading a fine line to expect last year’s heroics to be replicated at the same level, so Leicester need variety and options. Shinji Okazaki had two excellent first-half chances supporting Vardy, but the pace and penetration of new signing Ahmed Musa looks an upgrade to give Ranieri twin threats up top.The development of Demarai Gray, 20, will also be crucial, and it was clear that Ranieri was looking at relentless speed as he opened the game up in the second-half.
BUT THERE’S A N’GOLO KANTE SIZED HOLE IN THE MIDDLE
Ranieri will hope, however, that early warnings were mere pre-season rustiness than any dropping of the ball.Wes Morgan was beaten by Lingaard and Ibrahimovic, for example, while Lingaard sauntered through a very N’Golo Kante sized hole through the middle of the park.Nampelys Mendy has big shoes – and lots of territory to fill – to come close to reaching the level Kante did last tern.That’s the biggest concern for the Foxes defensively, but to suspect they’ll slide miserably down the table after the heights of last term is unfair. They played with much intensity and organisation against United and can remain a force in 2016-2017.“I’m very pleased with our performance. I have congratulated my players. We aren’t ready yet to play as we did last season but we played well, especially in the second half.“Maybe in the first half we were a little shy because it was so hot and difficult to run. In the second half we pushed a lot and we tried to score. We did and I think at the minimum we deserved to arrive at the penalty shootout.“I’m very proud and I’m very happy because we worked so hard. I told the players that we aren’t ready yet, but give me 120 per cent. Help each other and run for your team-mates. They did this and I’m very please“For our fans, when they watch the players fight until the end, they are happy. They understand that not always we can win, but they’ll always watch the squad fight until the end.”They will certainly obtain Ranieri’s modest ambition of 40 points again this term
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