Despite a poor Premier League campaign, Jose Mourinho ended up enjoying a very profitable first season as Manchester United boss.
February’s EFL Cup triumph made him the first manager in the club’s history to win a trophy in his debut year, and the Red Devils followed that up by winning the Europa League.
On July 16, 2016, before the 2016-17 term even started, Mourinho took charge of his first match as United recorded a low-key 2-0 victory at Wigan Athletic in a pre-season friendly.
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The “Special One” had a very big squad back then, and some key stars were enjoying an extended break after Euro 2016, but who did he select in his very first Man Utd starting XI? Let’s take a look back.
GK – Sam Johnstone
With both David de Gea and Sergio Romero not involved, Sam Johnstone, now on loan at Aston Villa, lined up in between the sticks for Mourinho, with Joel Castro Pereira taking over eight minutes from time.
RB – Timothy Fosu-Mensah
Exciting academy graduate and Crystal Palace loanee Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who can also play at centre-back and in defensive midfield, was the man who started the game at right-back.
CB – Eric Bailly
Eric Bailly; the first player Jose brought in as Man Utd manager, produced an impressive display on his unofficial debut following his £30 million move from Villarreal.
CB – Daley Blind
The Ivorian was partnered in central defence by the cool and composed Daley Blind, and they were both substituted late on for Axel Tuanzebe and Tyler Blackett (now at Reading) respectively.
LB – Luke Shaw
The beginning of the Mourinho era marked Luke Shaw’s long-awaited return from the horrific double leg-break he suffered in Eindhoven in September 2015.
The talented English left-back, who was making his first appearance in ten months, was replaced at half-time by compatriot Phil Jones.
CM – Michael Carrick (c)
Michael Carrick captained Mourinho’s side at the DW Stadium and his replacement, playmaker Andreas Pereira, scored United’s second goal with a powerful strike into the top corner.
CM – Ander Herrera
Ander Herrera was alongside Carrick in the starting XI and was his usual classy yet energetic self as he got to grips with Mourinho’s new deeper role for him.
As we all know, the Spaniard went on to enjoy a fantastic campaign, making 50 appearances and being named the Europa League final Man of the Match as well as the club’s Player of the Year.
RM – Jesse Lingard
Still buzzing from his stunning FA Cup final winner against Palace, Jesse Lingard lined up on the right-hand side of midfield, making way for Real Sociedad newboy Adnan Januzaj at the interval.
No. 10 – Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Debutant Henrikh Mkhitaryan pulled the strings as a number ten and was at the heart of every good United move with his inventiveness, vision and ability to dribble at pace.
The new signing was replaced at half-time by Juan Mata, who provided one of the easiest assists of his career for Will Keane’s opener just four minutes after coming on.
LM – Memphis
After an underwhelming first year in England, Memphis Depay started on the left-wing and came off for the experienced Ashley Young at the break.
Having played just four league games, Memphis joined French club Lyon in January, however, like Januzaj, United did include a buy-back clause in his contract in case he shows signs of fulfilling his massive potential.
ST – James Wilson
James Wilson, who burst onto the scene with two goals on his Man United debut against Hull City in 2014, started up front in Mourinho’s first match.
The centre-forward was replaced by fellow youngster Keane (now of Hull), who found the back of the net in the 49th minute with a simple tap-in after a goalkeeping error.
Watch out for United
Whatever you make of this XI, judging by United’s start to this season, it looks like they will mount a serious title challenge over the coming months.
The Red Devils are yet to concede, Nemanja Matic is controlling the midfield, and the likes of Paul Pogba, Mkhitaryan and Romelu Lukaku are running riot going forward.
What do YOU make of Mourinho's first Man Utd XI? How much better is the starting line-up now? Be sure to leave YOUR opinion in the comments box below!
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