Never one to let the Queens English get in the way of a good quote Jose Mourinho summed up both in the pre-match and post-match interviews this particular match. Pre-match Mourinho said he wanted “Happy Football”, post-match Mourinho summed up the game and said he was happy “just to let the horses run free” and they were.
Mourinho, however, is also a pragmatist and does not take lightly to journalists who, sometimes in glowing terms, pronounce what they think this United side can achieve this season. His default position at the moment is to counter high hopes with the fact that last season United won their opening two matches but finished 6th in the premiership.
Yet the journalists have a point this Manchester United side looks stronger than they were last season. It is not just the fact that three new players, Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matić and Victor Lindelöf have arrived at the club adding speed, height and aggression but also that two of the mainstays of last seasons team are no longer in the squad. Although in Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s case there may be a reunion if the Swede proves his fitness in the next few months. Rumours are rife that a new contract will be signed sooner rather than later with Ibrahimovic returning for the second half of the season.
With Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney, last season the build up was slower and more measured. This season so far there is more pace, with Paul Pogba being allowed to move up from midfield now Matic is commanding it. Pogba has scored a goal a game so far this season with his second and United ‘s third being an exquisite chip over the Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
It was Pogba’s powerful header in the first half which hit the bar that led to United first goal. Eric Bailly forcing the ball over the line to net his first-ever goal for United. With eight goals scored and none conceded at least United’s goal difference is in a healthy situation.
There will, of course, be tougher games ahead, West Ham United and Swansea City are not Chelsea or Manchester City, but as the old saying goes you can only beat those put in front of you.
What these two wins will do presumably is give confidence to the team at a very important time of the season. You might not win the premiership title in the first few games but you can certainly lose it. Or at the very least be always playing catch up to the teams ahead of you which is always a disadvantage.
Whether there will be any new signings added to the United squad before the transfer window shuts on August 31st only time will tell. However, Mourinho does not seem overly concerned at least in his public pronouncements. Privately there may be more of a concern because of the one area, on the left side, which while manageable, does need addressing. While Ivan Perisic has been the name in the frame all summer to fill that position it is looking less likely now that the deal will happen. However, there may still be time for the surprise signing Mourinho hinted at when the transfer window opened.
Leicester City next Saturday at Old Trafford should offer more of a test to United than what has gone before. Whether the football remains ‘happy’ and the ‘running remains free’ as the matches come thick and fast after August, it will be, I suspect, an exciting ride for all concerned, manager, players and supporters alike.