22/07/2016 22:19, Report by James Tuck
ManUtd.com assesses some of the key themes from Friday’s Tour 2016 game against Borussia Dortmund in Shanghai…
Jose Mourinho revealed to MUTV on Thursday that he was keen to try out different formations, players and positions to those we saw in last weekend’s friendly against Wigan Athletic. And he was true to his word, starting with Memphis Depay as a lone striker, Daley Blind in a holding midfield role, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones as the centre-back pairing and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the left in a 4-4-1-1. The boss made four changes at the break, bringing on Sergio Romero, Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young and Marcus Rashford in like-for-like swaps, while Adnan Januzaj, Paddy McNair and Andreas Pereira were introduced later.
The new manager is certainly exploring his options. Blind and Ander Herrera flitted between defensive and attacking midfield roles, Mhkitaryan briefly swapped flanks with Jesse Lingard, Pereira played in the middle of the park and, by the end of the game, there was a real fluidity between United’s attacking quartet of Rashford, Juan Mata, Januzaj and Young. With several players yet to return, Mourinho’s line-up for the first game of the season against Bournemouth remains full of intrigue.
WE MEET AGAIN
Only a couple of weeks after joining United from Dortmund, Mkhitaryan came up against his former club. The Armenian was warmly embraced by his old team-mates before kick-off, as was Shinji Kagawa, who was a popular member of the Reds’ dressing room. Both players were substituted in the second period, while Januzaj came off the bench against the club he played for on loan last season.
Antonio Valencia started the encounter as skipper, a role he also filled in the second half at the DW Stadium, and went about his business in his usual quietly effective style. Regular incumbents Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Chris Smalling were all not involved, but might the Ecuadorian be entrusted with the armband when required during the season?
ANOTHER RUN-OUT FOR SHAW
Luke Shaw admitted it was an emotional moment for him when he ended a 10-month injury absence against the Latics, and he stepped up his return to full fitness with an energetic display at left-back, as one of only four Reds to complete the 90 minutes. It was a sight to gladden the heart of every United fan.
CONDITIONS PROVE IDEAL PREPARATION
Mourinho indicated in his pre-match press conference that, though the humidity was proving tough for his players, it would also improve their fitness ahead of the new campaign. This was effectively a warm-weather training camp, with United’s new blue away kit turning almost black with sweat and both sides pausing for a lengthy drinks break after 30 minutes in each half. But conditions in flood-stricken Beijing, where the Reds face local rivals Manchester City on Monday, could be quite different.
CHINESE SUPPORT IS AS STRONG AS EVER
Hundreds of United fans bellowed out popular terrace chants as they waited for the team bus outside the stadium and, though they were subdued by Dortmund’s four goals, red shirts comfortably outnumbered yellow among the spectators inside Shanghai Stadium. And Mkhitaryan’s unofficial first Reds goal prompted a deafening clap of thunder sticks in a colourful show of support. It continued a theme of the tour so far, with dozens of excited supporters waiting for their heroes in and around the team hotel, morning, noon and night.