Manchester United kicked off the Premier League season with a 2-1 win over Leicester at Old Trafford. Paul Pobga wore the captain’s armband and opened the scoring for the team from the penalty spot.
When you consider that Pogba only returned to training on Monday, having been given an extended holiday after winning the World Cup with France, it’s remarkable that he started and lasted until the 84th minute, before being replaced by Marouane Fellaini.
After the game, Mourinho sang Pogba’s praises.
It’s a good way to start the Premier League. It was a good match. Paul Pogba couldn’t play 90 minutes, Fred the same. I needed more changes, but I couldn’t so it was not easy to manage the game from the touchline point of view.
But I told the players we had very good periods, we had lots of glimpses of the football we wanted to play. Leicester were strong in a few periods of the game, but we coped with that as a team which is also an important thing. The team played as a team in these difficult moments. But, of course, in the second half, I had Andreas Pereira and Fred both with a yellow card. Paul was fantastic – his contribution was amazing, but the fuel was disappearing every minute, so we were in trouble and we needed McTominay and Fellaini to give me that balance in midfield. But the players gave everything, they gave what they had. I told them to give everything they had.Everybody did that in a fantastic way.
After Alexis Sanchez won the penalty, he was seen in conversation with Pogba over who should take the spot kick, but the captain pulled rank. Mourinho talked about the Frenchman’s penalty, which started with an odd run up, and praised him for taking on the responsibility.
The thinking was he is a very good penalty taker and he likes the responsibility of it and he is the first choice. Of course, we have on the pitch, a second or third choice in case of not being confident or for some reason he doesn’t want to take. He was ready and, of course, he trained a lot of penalties during the World Cup because it’s something that in a competition like that it’s something that every player trains a lot. He was very confident and Schmeichel is very good on penalties but no chance. The run doesn’t matter – what matters is the quality and the intensity. You could feel that the direction was impossible for Schmeichel. I think if Schmeichel goes to the same corner, he could only arrive at the ball with wings, so it was a fantastic penalty.