…and he showed what we’ve been missing in midfield for the past few seasons.
Because he was suspended from United’s opening game of the league due to two yellow cards still on his books from his Juve days, Paul Pogba had to wait until the team’s first match at Old Trafford to make his first start in the Premier League (he didn’t start any league games when at United four years ago).
In the first Friday night game as part of Sky’s new TV deal, it was an exciting starting line-up against Southampton as Pogba’s name was added to that of Ibrahimovic and Bailly (once Mickey T is back to full fitness, all four new signings should be making regular starts together). Shaw, Martial, Mata, Fellaini and captain Rooney complemented the other three well to make it a hard task for Southampton to get a third win in a row at Old Trafford.
And so it proved as with ten minutes left before half-time, Captain Rooney received a lovely pass from the resurgent Valencia and hit a lovely cross from the wing that Ibrahimovic headed past Forster. When Luke Shaw was tripped in the Southampton box soon after the second half started, Ibrahimovic stepped up to double his and United’s tally by making it 2-0. Though Southampton had their own chances, the three points were never in doubt especially after that second goal, and when the final whistle went it was a joy to see United and Jose Mourinho get a third win in a row (including the Charity Shield win against Leicester).
Paul Pogba looked like the ‘midfield monster’ we’ve been begging Ed Woodward and David Gill before him to go and get (admittedly, he’d probably have been ruling United’s midfield for the past four seasons if Sir Alex didn’t detest agents like Mino Raiola so much). Even though he still needs to get up to speed, there were moments where he showed why United broke the world record fee to get him back from the Italian Champions, and though Ibrahimovic was rightly voted man of the match, Pogba himself will win a few of them in the next few years (until he’s probably dragged to Spain by Signor Raiola). He’s come a long way under Conte and Allegri while in Italy, and he can get even better under the guidance of Mourinho.
Others who impressed on Friday were Valencia, Fellaini (yes, him again), Mata and Shaw, who all seem to be doing their best to be in Mourinho’s first eleven. Eric Bailly also had another solid performance in United’s centre of defence.
In other games in the Premier League, the top two from last season played out a goalless draw as Leicester and Arsenal shut each other out; Guardiola’s City had an impressive 4-1 win at Mark Hughes’ Stoke; Chelsea got another late win when they won 2-1 at Watford; Tottenham got their first win by beating Palace 1-0; Everton did so too by beating West Brom 2-1 away from home; last week’s early league winners L’pool managed to lose 2-0 at Burnley, prompting many of their fans to go on national radio and say that Klopp is not good enough for them!; everyone’s relegation favourites Hull maintained their 100% record by winning 2-0 at Swansea; West Ham won their first game at the new stadium by beating Bournemouth 1-0; and Sunderland lost the Tees-Wear derby (a very distant second to the Tyne-Wear derby) 2-1 at home to Middlesboro, with the ever optimistic David Moyes telling the club’s fans to expect another relegation battle.
In other news, the Champions League draw will be made in Monaco on Friday, but who’s interested in that eh? The Europa League is where it’s at, as many of us get excited (or not) about who United will be playing on Thursday nights for the next few months.
In more United news, Tyler Blackett has joined Jaap Stam’s Reading on a three year contract; James Wilson has joined Derby on a season-long loan, and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson has done the same by joining Wolves.
Hopefully Borthwick-Jackson will improve further as he could still have a future at United. Meanwhile, we’ll look at the bright side of him moving to another club as his name takes a while to type in whenever we have to talk about him. As for Wilson, he needs to crack on and get his shooting boots on as time might be running out for him to make it at the club though he is only twenty.
This weekend we look forward to a top of the table clash against Mike Phelan’s Hull (Saturday 5:30pm UK time). Though they’ve started well with two somewhat surprising victories, we’ll be hoping that Mourinho will put a stop to that and get a third win in a row in the Premier League… COME ON UNITED!!!