It’s been a far from inspiring start to the summer for Manchester United, who have struggled to get into a groove on their pre-season tour of the United States.
They stuttered to 1-1 and 0-0 draws with Club America and San Jose Earthquakes respectively, before a maiden victory was achieved via a penalty shootout against AC Milan.
But against eternal rivals Liverpool on Sunday, they imploded, a combative 1-1 scoreline at half-time quickly turning into a chastening 4-1 thrashing 45 minutes later.
Here are three things for Mourinho to mull over.
PROMOTION FOR PEREIRA
Andreas Pereira was one of the few United players to emerge from this demoralising defeat to the Merseysiders with any credit.
His stunning free-kick served up a reminder of his penchant for the sublime and Jose Mourinho may well be planning to use his dynamism to sharpen an already fairly blunt United attack for the start of the Premier League campaign.
In a midfield containing Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay, there is precious little penache.
Many World Cup stars are unlikely to be rushed back following their Russia exploits – but expect the purring Paul Pogba to be the exception.
Matic is now out after surgery so that, plus a ponderous performance from youngster McTominay, leaves United very light on quality. Fred will eventually add steel and silk in equal measure but needs time to find his feet. Ander Herrera is a leader and capable footballer but struggles to consistently exert his unique blend of cultured creativity and tenacious terrior-like play on proceedings.
The stage is set, therefore, for Pereira to press his claim.
PRE-SEASON IS NOT THE ACID TEST – BUT THIS WILL STILL STING
Remember the scorching season of 2014/15 when Manchester United swept all before them? Well, in pre-season anyway.
As a prelude to Louis van Gaal’s first term in charge, United decimated their opponents on a summer trip to America, six straight wins were recorded with 18 goals plundered. They beat Real Madrid 3-1 in front of 109,318 fans at Michigan Stadium, the biggest crowd recorded in America for a football match.
Liverpool were beaten by the same scoreline. Their other victories were against stern opposition in Roma, Inter Milan and Valencia – only LA Galaxy were vastly inferior.
Even more impressive was the fact the Dutchman only joined up with his new squad in mid-July, a week before jetting out to the US, having led the Netherlands to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Brazil.
All that early promise, however, was replaced by the plodding possession-based football that came to define his reign.
So whereas Saturday’s misery in Michigan stung – particularly against bitterly despised rivals – it should not be dwelled on.
INJURIES WEAKEN AN ALREADY DEPLETED SIDE
Chris Smalling withdrew from the warm-up and the manager confirmed after the chastening defeat that Matic won’t play any part in pre-season and will likely miss a chuck of the Premier League kick-off following surgery.
Those two join Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia who are already on the sidelines following knocks picked up Stateside.
Mourinho’s ire post-match was poisonous and pedantic, but also pretty predictable. He feels he hasn’t been backed yet again in the transfer market and there’s a lot of truth in that.
Glancing over at the opposition’s bench won’t have done anything to dampen his rage.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s £13m move from Stoke City earlier this summer was already a steal of a deal in the modern-day maze of over-inflated transfer fees.
The Switzerland schemer then emerged from the bench to sprinkle some stardust – teeing up Daniel Sturridge to score with his first touch and then climbing acrobatically to meet Ben Woodburn’s cross and thump home a spectacular overhead kick as the Reds rammed home their advantage.
Liverpool are firing while the only fire raging at United seems to be inside their manager.
“The atmosphere was good, but if I was them I wouldn’t come,” Mourinho said after an under-strength side lost 4-1 to their bitter rivals.
“I wouldn’t spend my money to see these teams.”
See what else Mourinho had to say in our video below.
But he has taken it to a new level after the Red Devils slumped to a 4-1 loss to Liverpool in Michigan on Saturday night.
Mourinho blasted his young players, the refs – even the over 101,000 fans who attended saying he wouldn’t have paid to watch the match.
Check out his comments below.