Bournemouth - Jose Mourinho has pledged to
turn Manchester United's underachieving stars into Premier League title
contenders with a relentless diet of hard work.
Mourinho will take charge of his first
league match as United manager on Sunday when his new team kick off their
domestic campaign at Bournemouth.
It is a moment Mourinho has dreamt of from
the moment he danced a joyous jig down the Old Trafford touchline after Porto's
late winner in a Champions League tie 12 years ago.
But Mourinho has no time for misty-eyed
memories as he focuses on rebuilding his bruised ego and restoring United's
Asked what United fans can expect from his
team, Mourinho's answer made it clear nothing but maximum effort will be
tolerated from a group whose lethargic efforts cost former bosses Louis van
Gaal and David Moyes their jobs.
"Professionalism, that's for sure.
We're not here to have fun, not here to enjoy the sunny weather," Mourinho
"We're here to work, here to give
everything for the club.
"That's what we promise. The only
thing that every Manchester United fan around the world can be sure of is that
inside the training ground everybody works."
With Paul Pogba's United debut delayed by a
one-match suspension incurred at the end of his time with Juventus, it will be
Mourinho rather than his 89 million world record signing who will hog the
spotlight at the start of a new era for the Portuguese coach and his team.
And after the acrimonious nature of his
sacking by Chelsea in December - a departure triggered by the breakdown of his
relationship with many of the squad - he would love nothing more than to prove
his detractors wrong by winning major silverware this season.
Just months after leading Chelsea to his
third English title, Mourinho went into meltdown, squabbling with the club's
then doctor in a damaging dispute over an injury to Eden Hazard, railing
against perceived injustices from referees and the FA and eventually losing the
support of his players.
It was the most spectacular failure of
Mourinho's otherwise trophy-laden career and he has been plotting his
renaissance ever since.
Whether he has learnt the lessons of what
went wrong at Chelsea remains to be seen, but the journey should be
Since Alex Ferguson retired, United have
been a club in search of an identity, going three years without winning the
Premier League and finishing fifth under Van Gaal last season.
Mourinho has already put his stamp on the
team in more areas than the central midfield berth Pogba will eventually fill.
Sweden forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ivory
Coast defender Eric Bailly and Armenia midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan are all
intriguing and potentially shrewd acquisitions.
Bailly and Ibrahimovic should make their
Premier League debuts against Bournemouth after influential contributions in
last weekend's Community Shield victory over champions Leicester City, while
Mkhitaryan could also feature following the news of Pogba's ban.
Meanwhile, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe
knows the threat posed by United this weekend will be typical of a daunting
second season in the top flight.
Minnows Bournemouth earned plaudits for
avoiding relegation but they finished just five points above the bottom three
and Howe is aware the battle for points will be even more ferocious after the
heavy close-season spending across the league.
"I'm expecting it to be harder. The
novelty value will have gone from our players' perspective," he said.
"That is a challenge for us that they
should respond to in a positive fashion, not a negative fashion.
"The quality of the league has gone up
when you look at the quality of managers that have come in, the players that
have been attracted to the league and the money that has been spent.
"We have improved but everybody else
has so the challenge is going to be tougher."