Sunday afternoon saw Manchester United and the Jose Mourinho era get off to a successful start, as the Red Devils defeated AFC Bournemouth 3-1 at the Vitality Stadium.
A slow opening half-hour to the match saw both clubs wait for their chances as they analysed each other’s setup.
But as United hit their stride, the Cherries were unable to keep up with the pressure. A disastrous back-pass from Bournemouth centre-back Simon Francis led to the first Premier League goal for United under Mourinho, ironically tapped home by his former Chelsea castoff Juan Mata (40’).
United, buoyed by this, kept the pressure on and eventually took total control of the game in the second half, finding two more goals through captain Wayne Rooney (59’) and forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (64’).
A goal from Bournemouth defender Adam Smith served only as consolation, as Bournemouth and manager Eddie Howe must now look towards a trip to the Olympic Stadium and West Ham United next weekend for their first points of the 2016-17 season.
We take a look at how Manchester United’s squad performed in their first victory of the season.
1) GK – David de Gea – 7/10
The Spanish international had a quiet day, seeing little action throughout the contest. He had no chance of stopping Smith’s second-half strike, and his positioning in goal was excellent overall.
2) RB – Antonio Valencia – 7/10
Valencia needed some time to settle into the match, committing fouls in the early minutes. Once composed, the Ecuadorian right-back caused issues for the Bournemouth defence when getting forward on the right flank.
His crosses caused problems in the opposing half of the pitch and directly lead to United’s second goal.
3) CB – Eric Bailly – 8/10
Making his Premier League debut after a summer transfer from La Liga side Villarreal, centre-back Eric Bailly produced an excellent performance in the middle of the United lineup.
Despite some occasional trouble when closing down swift passes, Bailly’s positioning and work rate were impressive. The new man already seems quite comfortable in his surroundings.
4) CB – Daley Blind – 8/10
Finding more and more playing time in central defence as opposed to a midfield role, Dutch international Daley Blind provided another great display. His passing ability helped to launch several United attacks going forward.
5) LB – Luke Shaw – 7/10
Luke Shaw turned in an adequate performance holding down the left side, seemingly still getting into top form after last year’s horror tackle that he suffered against PSV in the Champions League which sidelined him for months.
Passing accuracy and confidence grew as the match went on, just as it likely will for the Englishman’s entire season.
6) MF – Marouane Fellaini – 7/10
The Belgian defensive midfielder showed excellent positioning and intercepted several Bournemouth passes. He did a fine job of tracking back and assisting the backline when needed, heading away crosses from the opposition.
7) MF – Ander Herrera – 7/10
Herrera provided perfect cover in the defensive midfield, with accurate passes and fine positioning.
Similar to Fellaini, the Spaniard did not find as much success when moving up the pitch, something that wasn’t too important given that their role was more focused upon solidifying and controlling the midfield.
8) MF – Juan Mata – 8/10
After a difficult start to life under Mourinho for the second time in his career, Mata showed great character to put in a solid performance on Sunday.
His intense pressing led to his first goal of the campaign, and his work rate throughout opened up space for his teammates on numerous occasions.
9) MF – Wayne Rooney – 7/10
While perhaps not the best day in midfield for the United captain, Rooney found a goal and had a possible penalty kick not given in the second half.
10) MF – Anthony Martial – 8/10
While the young French international did not find a goal for himself, his work on the left side set up attacks for almost the entire match.
His “assist” for the second goal may have accidental, but was deserved for the sensational drive and non-stop energy Martial showed.
11) FW – Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 8/10
Ibrahimovic’s size and strength is a handful for any defence, and he displayed both attributes to good effect against Bournemouth.
Finding the third goal of the match and linking up well with teammates, Manchester United and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are off to a wonderful start together.
1) MF – Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 5/10
Coming on for Juan Mata in the 75th minute, the Armenian international made his United debut but will have to wait to make his real first impression.
A quiet finish to the match did not offer him many opportunities.
2) MF – Morgan Schneiderlin – Incomplete
Subbed on for Martial in the dying minutes of the match, Schneiderlin helped see out the victory with a holding midfield role.
3) MF – Memphis Depay – Incomplete
Brought on for Wayne Rooney in stoppage time, Depay will look forward to more time on the pitch in coming fixtures for United.