It has been an exciting summer for Manchester United with thanks to a couple of huge new arrivals, and the Jose Mourinho era will get underway on July 22 when the Red Devils kick-off their pre-season campaign in China.
United may have lifted the FA Cup trophy last season, but it was not enough to keep Louis van Gaal in a job. The Dutchman had splashed the cash since arriving at Old Trafford in the summer of 2014, but in two years he was unable to turn United back into genuine title contenders and he paid the price with his job.
In fact, the build-up to the FA Cup Final win over Crystal Palace was overshadowed by the reports the Red Devils were poised to replace him with Jose Mourinho, and that proved to be the case when the 64-year-old was promptly given his marching orders, with the ‘Special One’ arriving shortly afterwards.
“To become Manchester United manager is a special honour in the game,” Mourinho said following his appointment. “It is a club known and admired throughout the world. There is a mystique and a romance about it which no other club can match.
“I have always felt an affinity with Old Trafford; it has hosted some important memories for me in my career and I have always enjoyed a rapport with the United fans. I’m looking forward to being their manager and enjoying their magnificent support in the coming years.”
Mourinho is not the only huge name to arrive at Old Trafford though, following confirmation the club have swooped for Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic following his departure from Paris St Germain at the end of the 2015/16 season, which saw PSG romp to another French championship.
“I am absolutely delighted to be joining Manchester United and am looking forward to playing in the Premier League,” said Ibrahimovic.
“It goes without saying that I cannot wait to work with Jose Mourinho once again. He is a fantastic manager and I am ready for this new and exciting challenge. I have thoroughly enjoyed my career so far and have some great memories. I am now ready to create more special memories in England.”
“Zlatan needs no introduction,” Mourinho added. “The statistics speak for themselves. Ibra is one of the best strikers in the world and a player who always gives 100%. He has won the most important league championships in the world of football, now he has the opportunity to play in the best league in the world and I know he will grasp this opportunity and will work hard to help the team win titles.
“I am certain that his talent will delight fans at Old Trafford next season and that his experience will be invaluable in helping to develop the younger players in the squad.”
Borussia Dortmund star Henrikh Mkhitaryan has also made the move to Old Trafford, so this is going to be an exciting and intriguing few months for United supporters who have seen their side fall off the pace since legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson departed a few years ago. They will also be looking forward to seeing the start of this new era when the pre-season fixtures begin in late July.
The match will see Mourinho and Guardiola renew the famous rivalry that began when the two men managed the biggest clubs in Spain – Real Madrid and Barcelona – and they will be keen to lay down a marker here. This may be a friendly, but both sets of supporters will be demanding victory to set the tone for the 2016/17 title race.
Manchester United then head to Sweden for their third pre-season outing and this could be the match in which Ibrahimovic makes his eagerly-awaited debut. The Red Devils are taking on Galatasaray in Gothenburg and the Swedish fans will be relishing the prospect of seeing of the country’s most talented sportsmen in United’s famous red shirt.
United then make their first Old Trafford appearance under Mourinho’s stewardship when they face Everton in Wayne Rooney’s testimonial match on August 3, and their pre-season campaign concludes on August 7 when the Red Devils return to Wembley Stadium to face last season’s shock title-winners, Leicester City, in the annual Community Shield match.
Manchester United’s Pre-Season Fixture Schedule
July 22 at 13:00 BST – Manchester United v Borussia Dortmund (Shanghai, China)
July 25 at 12:30 BST – Manchester City v Manchester United (Beijing, China)
July 30 at 18:30 BST – Manchester United v Galatasaray (Gothenburg, Sweden)
August 3 at 20:00 BST – Manchester United v Everton (Wayne Rooney Testimonial, Old Trafford)
August 7 at 16:00 BST – Manchester United v Leicester City (Community Shield, Wembley Stadium)