English Premiership

Chastened Mourinho on a mission at Utd

2016-08-13 12:02
Jose Mourinho (Getty Images)

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 tarnished reputation.

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 said.

"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 fascinating.

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."

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