The day of Jose Mourinho’s first competitive match with Manchester United was pretty much the perfect Jose Mourinho day. He signed Paul Pogba, he matched David Moyes’ achievements as Man United manager by winning the Community Shield on a late Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal, and he got to crush Juan Mata’s will to live in the cruelest way yet.
Just before the match, Mourinho learned that the deal to bring Paul Pogba back to the club was being completed. Hopefully he was not informed of the awful hashtag that was assigned to this momentous occasion, though.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 7, 2016
“United is the perfect club to bring him to the level he wants to be,” Mourinho later said, revealing that Pogba has apparently been craving a drop from the Champions League to the Europa League.
Then it was time for the match. Jesse Lingard scored, as he did in last season’s FA Cup final, giving Man United a halftime lead over Leicester. Jamie Vardy equalized for the Premier League champions in the 52nd minute, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed in the winner in the 83rd minute to ensure that Mourinho’s tenure at Man United starts at least as well as David Moyes’.
The trophy wasn’t the only joy this match brought Mourinho, though. In the 63rd minute, he put Juan Mata into the match — a curious move given reports of his desire to sell his non-defending nemesis, as he did when he returned to Chelsea in 2014. But in the third minute of injury time, Mourinho took Mata out of the game, replacing him with new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan — completing the ultimate insult for a substitute.
Mourinho addressed his decision to raise Mata’s hopes and then smash them into a thousand pieces after the match. From Goal.com:
“He played very well, he gave me exactly what I needed,” Mourinho told BT Sport. “The rules allowed six changes, and I wanted to stop the game, to kill time. I have one more player [to bring on] and I have to pick the smallest one [to come off].
“I know it would end with long balls, throw-ins, so I don’t pick [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic or [Marouane] Fellaini for sure. Mata is the smallest one. He was very angry but they threw everything. We want to win and everybody is happy in the end.”
So not only did he do this to him, but he also called him short, too. Cold. As. Ice.
And finally, it wouldn’t be a perfect Jose Mourinho day without an indirect shot at Rafa Benitez. From the Guardian:
“I would like to dedicate this victory to Louis van Gaal,” he said. “I don’t mind him having one more trophy, and I remember when I have left clubs who have gone on to win things they don’t always recognise who helped them get there. So this win is for him and in addition I dedicate it to the Manchester United players who were not involved in the game.”
If you remember, Rafa Benitez joined Inter after Mourinho won the treble with them in 2010 and added the Italian Super Cup and Club World Cup to the tally before getting sacked after six months on the job. “I thought he was going to thank me for the titles I gave him,” Mourinho said at the time. Apparently he’s still salty about that.