Mour­inho takes pos­i­tives from learn­ing Real les­son

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

SKOPJE — Jose Mour­inho in­sisted Manchester United had emerged from its UEFA Su­per Cup trip re­in­forced de­spite a some­what flat­ter­ing 2-1 loss to Real Madrid on Tues­day.

The Por­tuguese man­ager ex­pected a tough night against the reign­ing Euro­pean cham­pion, and United was for­tu­nate to get away with only con­ced­ing goals by Casemiro and Isco.

Casemiro hit the bar when the match at Philip II Arena was still score­less, and Gareth Bale blasted a shot off the wood­word af­ter the break.

But on a swel­ter­ing night in Mace­do­nia’s cap­i­tal, Skopje, last sea­son’s Europa League win­ner im­proved in the fi­nal stages af­ter Romelu Lukaku cut the deficit in half.

“I al­ways say the Cham­pi­ons League is one thing and the Europa League is an­other, and the Cham­pi­ons League win­ner ob­vi­ously has a dif­fer­ent po­ten­tial,” said for­mer Real coach Mour­inho.

“So for us to come here and do the pos­i­tive things we did, I think we have to keep that pos­i­tive feel­ing into the new sea­son, and into the Cham­pi­ons League in Septem­ber.

“I think this Su­per Cup was a great ex­pe­ri­ence for us.”

Mour­inho, who gave away his run­ner-up medal to a young fan be­hind the goal, drew so­lace from his be­lief that United won’t face the same level of Madrid’s mid­field qual­ity in the Premier League, which kicks off this week­end.

“We have top teams with dif­fer­ent qual­i­ties. There are no repli­cas of (Luka) Mo­dric, (Toni) Kroos, Isco or Casemiro,” he said.

As well as the Europa League, United won the League Cup last sea­son but is un­der pres­sure to im­prove af­ter la­bor­ing to a sixth-place finish in the league.

It be­gins its cam­paign at home to West Ham United on Sun­day and sum­mer sign­ings Vic­tor Lin­de­lof, Lukaku and Ne­manja Matic will all hope to have done enough in Skopje to keep their places against the Ham­mers.

Mour­inho was es­pe­cially pleased with ex-Chelsea mid­fielder Matic, say­ing the Serb “moved the ball well and gave bal­ance to the team to start build­ing from the back”.

De­but goal

Lukaku also earned praise from his man­ager af­ter the $97 mil­lion re­cruit from Ever­ton scored in his com­pet­i­tive de­but, but United’s at­tack looked like it could still do with the match-win­ning qual­ity of a player like Bale.

Mour­inho had mis­chie­vously sug­gested he would in­ter­pret Bale as be­ing for sale and would there­fore make a move for the Welsh­man if he did not start for Real.

But Bale did start, set­ting up Isco’s goal as well as hit­ting the bar be­fore be­ing re­placed in the 74th minute.

Mour­inho later told BT Sport it was “game over” as far as a move for the for­mer Tot­ten­ham and Southamp­ton player was con­cerned.

For all his suc­cess in the game, Mour­inho has still never won the Su­per Cup, while Real boss Zine­dine Zi­dane has now won the tro­phy two years run­ning, bring­ing the Span­ish gi­ant’s total num­ber of vic­to­ries to four.

Zi­dane’s suc­cess in his time as coach has been very im­pres­sive. This was the French­man’s sixth tro­phy since be­ing ap­pointed in January last year.

“There were big cel­e­bra­tions in the dress­ing room, we don’t get tired of win­ning,” said the 45-year-old one-time Galac­tico, whose side will de­fend both the Cham­pi­ons League crown and La Liga this sea­son.

Barcelona is re­port­edly close to buy­ing Liver­pool play­maker Philippe Coutinho as it looks to fill the void left by Ney­mar’s worl­drecord trans­fer to Paris Sain­tGer­main.

The Span­ish gi­ant al­ready had an in­ter­est in Coutinho (pic­tured) prior to Ney­mar’s $264 mil­lion move to PSG last week. ue of the deal to $141 mil­lion.

Barca be­lieves the Brazil in­ter­na­tional has the abil­ity to re­place Ney­mar along­side Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in a star front three and could also pro­vide cover for 33-year-old captain An­dres Ini­esta in mid­field.

Reds boss Jur­gen Klopp has re­peat­edly said over the sum­mer that Coutinho is not for sale.

ED­DIE KEOGH / REUTERS

Real Madrid’s Luka Mo­dric cel­e­brates Tues­day’s UEFA Su­per Cup vic­tory over Manchester United as team­mate Cris­tiano Ron­aldo looks on.

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