Luke Shaw takes chance and Paul Pogba is spot on in our Manchester United player ratings

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Paul Pogba stroked in a penalty-kick during his first appearance since lifting the World Cup and Luke Shaw broke his career duck as Manchester United began the 2018/19 Premier League with a 2-1 win against Leicester City.

Last term’s runners-up sprung a surprise with the inclusion of France midfielder Pogba, 25, from the start. He showed no rust in just the third minute – despite only returning to training on Monday – when he converted from 12 yards after Ghana right-back Daniel Amartey’s sloppy handball.

United failed to step up a gear on Friday night and Spain No1 David De Gea had to be alert to paw away winger Demarai Gray’s second-half volley. This jolted the hosts at Old Trafford back into life and left-back Shaw showed great skill to earn space in the box and find the bottom corner in the 83rd minute.

England striker Jamie Vardy then headed in a fortuitous injury-time goal for the visitors, but United held on.

Here are our player ratings:

MANCHESTER UNITED (4-3-3)

David De Gea – 7: He underwhelmed for Spain in Russia, but the 27-year-old comes into his own at club level. Produced wonderful saves from Premier League debutant James Maddison and Gray. Helpless as Ricardo Pereira cross skidded through at the death.

Matteo Darmian – 6: This was an encouraging performance for United in two respects. Darmian was much improved from the erratic figures of previous campaigns, plus it’s likely increased the price the club are demanding of the right-back’s Italian suitors.

Eric Bailly – 6: A typical, all-action display from the Ivory Coast international – who looked recovered from knock against Bayern Munich. Spoiled it at the end with hesitancy dealing with Pereira centre.

Victor Lindelof – 6: Confidence-boosting selection for the Sweden international. Stood up to physical threat at set-pieces and did well on the ground against Leicester’s pacy attackers. A better second season awaits.

Luke Shaw – 8: A huge smile crept across his face when he scored for the first time in his career. This capped off a fine display from the 23-year-old. Even manager Jose Mourinho cheered the goal – is this the turning point for Shaw?

Fred – 6: This was a solid debut for the £47 million summer signing from Shakhtar Donetsk. Won fair share of the ball and put in 92.3-per-cent pass completion from 52 passes, before being substituted.

Andreas Pereira – 7: The Brazil youth international had been waiting for this moment. His first league start in England after several seasons away saw him do well at the base of midfield. Mourinho must have been impressed.

Paul Pogba – 7: No minutes in pre-season and fresh off his holiday, Pogba showed his class to authoritatively strike from the spot in just the third minute. Influence was then understandably intermittent, plus he was dispossessed a United high four times. But after months of rumours about his reported disquiet, this was the response Mourinho was hoping for.

Juan Mata – 7: The Spain playmaker blew hot and cold. Showed class to tee up Shaw for opening goal.

Marcus Rashford – 5: The new holder of the No10 shirt had a night to forget. Appeared to take a knock in the first half and had no attempts on goal in 66 minutes of action.

Alexis Sanchez – 6: Another to put in an inconsistent performance. Messed up a few opportunities on the break with poor passes, but also produced several eye-catching flicks. Something to work on for the January arrival.

SUBS

Romelu Lukaku – 5: Should have scored, but denied by Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel’s legs.

Scott McTominay – N/A: A trusted lieutenant for Mourinho. Did a job to plug midfield.

Marouane Fellaini – N/A: Man who looked like he was poised to leave United was present to see things through.

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Jose Mourinho puts on a brave face as Manchester United take on Leicester

Simon Peach 10/08/2018
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Jose Mourinho was left frustrated by a lack of deadline-day activity as Manchester United failed to bring in the centre-back he craved.

After sealing deals for Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant by early July, last season’s Premier League runners-up were unable to add further despite the Portuguese’s explicit desire to bring in two more players.

Mourinho warned it could be a “difficult season” if United did not bring in at least one more face, with centre-back the main focus in a market that was inflated by last summer’s deals.

According to reports, United were ready to spend big on a world-class defender, with a £100million move for Raphael Varane considered before Real Madrid made it clear that the France international was not for sale.

A number of other centre-backs were tracked but the club found few realistic options to markedly improve their backline as they attempted to balance long-term success with Mourinho’s hunger for silverware.

The United boss had been braced for the deadline-day disappointment and warned ahead of Friday’s Premier League opener against Leicester that the lack of improvement could return to haunt them this winter.

Asked if he had the tools to compete without new signings, Mourinho said: “I have my players, I like my players, I like to work with my players.

“One lie repeated 1,000 times is still a lie, but the perception of the people is that it’s true but it’s still a lie.

“So, when you repeat 1,000 times that my relationship with my players is not good, it’s a lie that repeated 1,000 times is still a lie. But again, the perception of the people that reads can be different, but I like my players and my group.

“I enjoy the last season, the fight to finish where we finished and to manage the best position in five or six years. I’m going to enjoy this season. Again, I know the words you want me to say or not to say. It depends on the music, but words for me don’t come easy.

“I think by the end of November or December, you don’t need words – you will see by then which teams are candidates to win the Premier League.

“In this moment, words are not important. Let’s play football and by the end of November or December, you don’t need words. You will see which teams are candidates.”

United had been interested in signing Harry Maguire this summer, but Leicester’s steadfast refusal to sell scuppered any move for the England star.

Misgivings over Jerome Boateng’s fitness and Bayern Munich’s reluctance to do a loan deal ruled that option out, while Atletico Madrid were contacted about Diego Godin but it quickly became evident that the move was a no-go.

Barcelona defender Yerry Mina joined Everton as prohibitive agent demands put off United and no offer is understood to have been tabled for Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld. The only one top-level conversation between the clubs was Spurs enquiring about two of United’s players.

Anthony Martial is believed to be one of them but the United forward is going nowhere, nor is compatriot Paul Pogba amid reported interest from Barcelona and supposed tensions with Mourinho.

“My perception? He arrived Monday, happy, proud, with a desire to work,” the United boss said of the club-record signing.

“He worked amazingly well Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and he’s one of the players that I have to speak to see how physically and mentally he feels. But it’s the same conversation as with (Ashley) Young, (Marouane) Fellaini, (Jesse) Lingard, it’s the same. To know how they feel physically, mentally to try to give us a help.”

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Claude Puel confirms Harry Maguire is going to Man United – for Leicester's Premier League opener

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Claude Puel has confirmed Harry Maguire is on his way to Manchester United – for Leicester‘s Premier League opener on Friday night.

Maguire is thought to be United’s number one transfer target as they look to sign a central defender ahead of today’s transfer deadline.

Discussions have reportedly taken place between the two clubs regarding the 25-year-old, who starred for England at this summer’s World Cup as Gareth Southgate’s side reached the semi-finals.

Asked about United’s interest, Leicester boss Puel joked with the media at his pre-match press conference on Thursday.

He said: “I can confirm he is going to Manchester – but only for a couple of hours.

“I am happy to keep Harry. He is our best player. I am a football manager and I want to keep our best players for the squad and for our season. We want to keep good ambition.

“We lost Riyad Mahrez, who was a very valuable player for us, so it was important to keep our best players and have good additions to the squad.

“We have to prepare for this season with good possibilities.”

Jose Mourinho is thought to be keen on Leicester's Harry Maguire.

Jose Mourinho is thought to be keen on Leicester’s Harry Maguire.

It has been reported that it would take a world-record bid for a defender, exceeding the £75million Liverpool paid Southampton for Virgil van Dijk, to even tempt Leicester to sell Maguire.

When that was put to Puel, the Frenchman maintained his stance.

“We will see what happens in his future but I am happy to keep Harry with us and I’m happy with his attitude in general. He has had a good mentality and spirit,” he said.

“We have had good talks with Harry and with the chairman and we cannot change things just before the first game of the season and just before the end of the transfer window.

“For us it is not possible. It is not serious.”

Meanwhile, Leicester have agreed a deal to sign Dinamo Zagreb defender Filip Benkovic.

The 21-year-old has signed a five-year contract at the King Power Stadium, subject to the deal being given international clearance.

He becomes the sixth new arrival of the summer following the acquisitions of Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, James Maddison, Danny Ward and Rachid Ghezzal.

Puel said: “Filip is an exciting young player who has the potential to develop even more at Leicester City Football Club.

“He has made a big contribution to Dinamo Zagreb over the last three years and has also benefited from experiencing European football.

“I know he will give us some great options and competition in the squad and I’m delighted to have him here.”

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