Jose Mourinho hints at Manchester United starters for Premier League opener against Leicester City
Manchester United opened their preseason tour of the United States with a 1-1 draw against Club America in Phoenix. A youthful and inexperienced United fell behind to the Mexican side just before the hour mark when Joel Pereira was beaten by a Henry Martin header. Pereira had replaced United's new signing, Lee Grant, between the sticks after an impressive first-half performance by the former Stoke City keeper.
The Red Devils fought back and earned a draw via a scrappy Juan Mata goal which came from a rebound off an Ander Herrera header with just over ten minutes to go. The match was notable for the number of first-team players Manchester United were missing due to all of the World Cup participants enjoying an extended preseason break.
Of the debutants, Tahith Chong enjoyed a particularly impressive game after coming on in the second half. The 18-year-old sent in the cross for Ander Herrera which led to United's equalizer and produced several exciting moments to get the local crowd going.
However, despite the inexperience of the Manchester United lineup, Mourinho identified his starting back four as the players most likely to begin the Premier League season against Leicester City on August 11th. Smalling, Bailly, Shaw, and Valencia began the match in Phoenix and the United boss saw this as ideal preparation for the upcoming season.
Speaking to MUTV after the tour opener, Mourinho said:
"Valencia, Smalling, Bailly and Shaw, they are probably the ones to start the season. Andreas Pereira, Herrera and Scott [McTominay] tonight. We have Matic and Fred coming next week, so in there we have more solutions. And we have Mata, Mitchell, Martial. Sanchez is coming but we don’t have many more solutions for the start of the season."
The comments make for interesting reading, particularly for United fans who may have hoped for additional defensive reinforcements before the beginning of the season. A backline featuring Shaw and Smalling doesn't inspire confidence for fans of the Old Trafford club.
Mourinho's comments regarding Man United's midfield options also make for interesting reading. The United manager had previously suggested that Sanchez, Martial, and Mata would start up front for the Premier League opener. However, his latest comments suggest he remains undecided about United's attack.
The Special One also voiced his discontent with the early season start for Manchester United again. The Red Devils' match against Leicester has been moved to Friday night for television coverage, meaning both sides will begin their season a day earlier than their competitors. Mourinho had no desire to hide his feelings about the movement of the fixture:
"Everything is really bad and then we go to the UK and we have to play Premier League, and Premier League broadcasters were not nice to us by giving us the Friday match, which complicates more things."
With the Premier League expected to be more competitive than ever this season, it is essential that Man United get off to a good start. The Red Devils continue their pre-season tour of the United States against San Jose Earthquakes in Santa Clara on Sunday.