1) Ibrahimovic can be great for United
It might have been a glorified pre-season friendly, but with six days to go until the start of the Premier League season, the Community Shield offered Jose Mourinho a last chance to gauge the fitness and readiness of his side. Whilst Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t have a spectacular game, his contributions, awareness and his ability to play the target man role that United have lacked for some time suggest that he’s more than capable of making an impact in England.
Sure, some rustiness was evident; this was only his third game after returning from his summer break, and it could be argued that plenty of his colleagues were even less sharp than he, but his goal, the work of some excellent footwork and deep cross by Antonio Valencia rounded off by Ibrahimovic’s well-placed header suggests that even at 34, the Swede won’t be overawed or struggle to adapt to the English game.
2) Antonio Valencia’s renaissance continues
The Ecuadorian has been a much derided figure within United’s fanbase over the last few years, but his performances over the last week of pre-season under Jose Mourinho have offered plenty of food for thought. Powerful running, good footwork and useful crosses…..more of that, please.
3) Bailly may be more ready than we thought
Mourinho hardly offered a ringing endorsement when discussing Eric Bailly, suggesting that his youth and inexperience may mean he’s one to watch as opposed to one for the immediate future. Today’s display, and his general level of performance during this pre-season may dictate otherwise.
Bailly wasn’t perfect; the Ivorian missed a few challenges and drew a silly booking after clattering into the back of Jamie Vardy in the second half, but he also looked powerful, made a stunning challenge to deny Vardy in the penalty area and showed a fearlessness in everything he did. With Chris Smalling still not match-fit, and Daley Blind’s future role at United less than certain, Bailly can stake a place in Mourinho’s XI straightaway if he plays like this.
4) Carrick and Fellaini shouldn’t feature as a duo
Of course, fitness played its part in Mourinho’s team selection, but with the likes of Ander Herrera and Morgan Schneiderlin on the bench, the selection of Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick in central midfield was uninspiring, to say the least.
It brought back too many memories of last season under Louis van Gaal, of a placid, slow partnership in the heart of United’s team, and hopefully, with the arrival of Paul Pogba imminent, we won’t see such a partnership in that central hub too often.
5) Improvement needed, but things look positive for United
There were some poor moments on show this evening; Wayne Rooney struggled again, Fellaini’s pass back to David de Gea for Vardy’s goal was woeful and United’s midfield lacked direction. But still, from Jesse Lingard’s lovely solo goal to Ibrahimovic’s late header, United look a more competent attacking unit, and when Mourinho figures out his best starting XI, good things could be coming to Old Trafford this season.