The Special One’s enforced Premier League exile comes to an end as he takes his Manchester United side to Bournemouth with silverware already in the bag this season thanks to their Community Shield win last Sunday.
Of course, the focus won’t solely be on Mourinho down on the South Coast with Zlatan Ibrahimovic set to make his Premier League bow and of course not forgetting world record signing Paul Pogba making his return in a United shirt – though his suspension means we’ll have to wait to see it. The ban was incurred by Pogba picking up two bookings in last season’s Coppa Italia while at Juventus.
Chris Smalling is also banned but new signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly will play.
After a disappointing season under Louis van Gaal last time around there is a fresh wave of optimism around Old Trafford. With the squad that Mourinho has now assembled a top 4 place at the end of the season will be the bare minimum but Mourinho will want the personal accolade of being the first man to lead two different clubs to Premier League glory.
After the departure of Roy Hodgson as England manager there was much talk of Eddie Howe becoming the next man to take charge of the national side. In fairness to Howe that probably came a bit too soon but he certainly has all the makings of a future England boss.
The reason he was being talked in those circles was due to the fact that he managed to keep Bournemouth up in their maiden Premier League season. Overall on the balance of their season you would have to say it was a job well done but the manner in which it ended will have given Bournemouth fans some cause for concern.
That’s because once safety was assured Howe’s players very much took their foot off the pedals and coasted along to the end with a return of just four points from their final 24. Now it may be harsh on Bournemouth as at least they got themselves into a position to relax after such heroic efforts from their first 30 league games but they certainly can’t afford that run of form at the start of this season.
The key this season for Eddie Howe is too make sure his team don’t suffer from ‘Second Season Syndrome’ they will no longer be the unknown quantity of twelve months ago and life in the top flight will be that little bit harder from week to week. This will now be a real test of Howe’s managerial mettle.
Bournemouth winger Junior Stanislas is out with a hernia problem but £15m club record signing Jordon Ibe is among the likely debutants. But Ibe is going to have his work cut out if he is to make an opening weekend impact for his new club.
The focus will very much be on Ibrahimovic this Afternoon and the smart money has to go on nothing less than a United win on the South Coast.