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Published: 23:02 | 10/8/18

Mourinho hails opening day win but bemoans lack of investment


Jose Mourinho has braced Manchester United fans to expect more tight games this season after a narrow 2-1 victory over Leicester City in the opening match of the Premier League campaign.

The Portuguese has been at odds with the club's board this summer over a lack of new signings and believes that other clubs have closed the gap by investing more.

Midfielder Fred was a £53m purchase from Shakhtar Donetsk and full-back Diogo Dalot cost £14m from Porto, but other targets, such as Leicester defender Harry Maguire and Spurs' Toby Alderweireld, as well as Chelsea midfielder Willian have been out of reach.

In comparison, The Foxes forked out nearly double what United spent during the summer on six new signings, including midfielder James Maddison and right-back Ricardo Pereira, who both made their debut at Old Trafford.

"It's important to win and play well, we played well in periods against a good team that invest more than us," said Mourinho.

"We must get used to teams who have players of the same quality that we have. Every team is a good team, forget the name, forget the history, forget the shirt.

"It will be a difficult season for everybody, not just for us. I had my plans for many months and I find myself at the beginning of the Premier League with the market closed in a situation I did not think I would be in. 

"That's football management. I think football is changing and managers should be called head coaches. We have big multi-functional structures. 

"We will have to wait until the end of November to understand if we can fight for the title."

World Cup winner Paul Pogba was a surprise starter for the Red Devils after his summer heroics and the Frenchman was also made captain in place of the injured Antonio Valencia.

The 26-year-old took just three minutes to continue the 'Feelgood Factor' opening the scoring from the penalty spot after the ball struck Daniel Amartey on an outstretched arm.

United fans expecting an onslaught were frustrated as the visitors enjoyed more possession, but apart from a Maddison effort that goalkeeper David de Gea did well to turn away, they rarely looked likely to level.

Luke Shaw was rewarded for encouraging form during pre-season with a starting berth at left-back and he paid back Mourinho with a solid display and his first senior goal in the closing stages turning home a Juan Mata chip.

Leicester sub Jamie Vardy ensured a nervy stoppage time when he nodded home after a Ricardo cross struck the base of the post.

Mourinho added: "[Premier League chief executive] Mr Scudamore must be happy, it's a good way to start the Premier League. A good match. 

"A match where I needed six changes not three. I want to play [Anthony] Martial but I can't, Paul Pogba can't play 90 minutes, Fred the same. I need more changes.

"It was not easy to manage the game from the touchline. But I told the players we had good periods, lots of glimpses of the type of football we wanted to play. 

"Leicester were strong in periods but we coped with that as a team.

"The team played as a team. In the second half I had Andreas Pereira and Fred with a yellow card, Paul was fantastic, his contribution was amazing but the fuel was disappearing. We were in trouble.

"Martial in the last 20 minutes could have given us the second goal but I couldn't make that change. The players gave everything, they gave what they had. Everybody did that."

Pogba appeared to be in dispute with Alexis Sanchez over who should take the penalty before taking responsibility himself and finding the top corner with aplomb.

He added: "We don't have one [a designated penalty taker]. It is how we feel. I decided to take it. I was one of the names but maybe in the next game I can leave it to Alexis. It is not a problem for me, the win was important."

"It was difficult because, for me, I didn't have any pre-season games. I came back on Monday, so it was very difficult for the stamina."

By Russell Stoddart

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