August 8, 2017
Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday evening which gave the Old Trafford club something to think about ahead of their Premier League opener against West Ham United on Sunday. Real Madrid took the lead in the 24th minute through Casemiro, in what was deemed an offside goal but not disallowed but the match officials, something manager Jose Mourinho spoke about after the defeat.
United found themselves 2-0 down after the break with Isco giving the Spanish a comfortable lead. Just ten minutes later, Romelu Lukaku struck to make it game on for United with just under half an hour to play. United had chances through Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini, which could have levelled the score, but it was not meant to be for the Red Devils. Mourinho, speaking to the official Manchester United website after the game, starting with his overall reflection of the game, saying:
“I think we did well. We lost 2-1 which, I think, shows the result was really short, and one of the goals was offside so with a good VAR it would be 1-1 and extra time. I think they could score more goals than they did, we could score more goals than we did. They had a period of dominance in the middle of the first half, we had a period of dominance in the middle of the second half and some balance in the beginning of the game.
“We were playing against a team of fantastic players and we discussed the result until almost the end, not the end but almost the end. Almost the end because when Cristiano Ronaldo is coming, the referee decided to show the respect for this amazing player, and then game over because every time Cristiano wanted a free kick the game was stopped. But we gave them a fight, we gave them a good fight and my boys only have reasons to leave – okay, disappointed because to lose is disappointing – but to leave optimistic and proud. Let’s go for Sunday.”
Mourinho then spoke about the fighting spirit of his side, which was shown especially in the second half with Marouane Fellaini and Marcus Rashford both having credible attempts on goal, which could have changed the game for United. Mourinho stated:
“The group is fantastic and Marouane (Fellaini) is just an example of that group, of that spirit we have. We were losing 2-0 against a fantastic team and, after 2-0, the next ball is a double chance with an open goal, amazing reaction, and then we go to 2-1. Then Marouane was injured but he kept going. Then we missed the Rashford chance only with the keeper to beat.
“We fought really until Cristiano got onto the pitch and I have to say that I’m really happy because although we lost a game and we lost a cup, we didn’t lose the season. The season is here, the season started today but our Premier League starts on Sunday for us and we are better now than when we were last season when we won the Europa League.”
The United manager, who was asked about Gareth Bale in his press conference ahead of the match on Monday, suggesting that if Bale did not play, it might indicate that he was not in the plans of Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, but the Welsh winger played for Real Madrid with Mourinho seemingly admitting defeat in the pursuit of the player, which has seeming not reached any further than what the manager said on Monday. Mourinho said:
“I think so, I think clearly the club [Real Madrid] wants him, the manager wants him and he wants the club, so for me, game over, even before it started, but game over clearly because I think now everybody knows that he’s going to stay.”
Mourinho ended by stating that United were ready for their opening Premier League match against West Ham United at Old Trafford on Sunday. The players will have a day off after Tuesday’s defeat on Wednesday and back to training on Thursday. Mourinho concluded by saying:
“Yes, we deserve the rest tomorrow and on Thursday we will start, we go for it with everything. I’m so happy to be the manager of these guys, I told them a few days ago that during my long career I never had a group that I liked so much like I like them. I’m really happy to be with them and I’m going to fight with them all the way, so let’s go on Sunday. Old Trafford is waiting for us and I think Old Trafford has a reason to be behind us.”
The defeat to Real Madrid will give some an uneasy feeling ahead of the new season, but with Eric Bailly, United’s best defender of last season suspended, United may have had problems anyway. Bailly will be eligible to start against the Hammers on Sunday, which could give United a better result. The UEFA Super Cup, despite being a trophy, does not grant any bragging rights or any special favours. United have now seen that although they are not at the same level as Real Madrid, the scoreline and the chances created do not see them a million miles apart. The first half saw a void being shown, but the second half saw that void being shrunk, albeit by a little bit. United never gave up and fought on to the end of the match, which shows they are in a much better position heading into the new season.