Jose Mourinho finally begins his era at the helm of Manchester United with a smooth 2-0 victory over Championship side Wigan.
The DW Stadium may be far from full for the manager’s debut, but a number of United fans had made the short journey, joined by the club’s executive vice-chairman, Ed Woordward.
Mourinho stayed impassively on his feet the whole time; there was little urgency amongst the players and the game in general.
But as the travelling support demanded a wave from the new manager, the Portuguese did his best to ignore them.
“It’s nice to feel welcome but I would prefer them to go with the team,” Mourinho said later. “They are the ones on the pitch. The players are the ones who need the support. If I could appeal to the fans I would ask them to get behind Manchester United.”
Even with most of his Euro 2016 players taking a break after the tournament, Mourinho still managed to gather 22 players on his touchline debut, including Juan Mata, Luke Shaw and Will Keane.
United managed to take control of a goalless first half before making seven changes at the break and two substitutes combined for the opener. Mata charges down goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen’s kick and passes it to Keane at the 48th minute for the first goal of Mourinho’s reign.
Andreas Pereira then found the top corner nine minutes later to secure the two-goal cushion.
Shaw’s appearance also came as a surprise to Mourinho following his double leg fracture at the start of last season which sidelined him for 10 months.
“When I found him at the training ground it was a surprise for me because I thought he couldn’t be ready to start work without limitation,” Mourinho said.
“He did fantastic over the summe, he sacrificed his holiday to get into condition. He was mad to play the second half as well, he wanted to play more than 45 minutes, but I thought 45 minutes was safe enough for his first game back. Let’s go step by step.”
In the end, the game was hardly more than a glorified training session for the Premier League giants and a chance for United to hand unofficial debuts to new players such as Eric Bailly and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The real pre-season business would begin this week as United will be joined by some of their Euro 2016 players to face Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund in China.