COMMENT By Harry Sykes
Man United took on Real Madrid in this year’s Super Cup, which was played at the Philip II Arena, in Macedonia.
Real Madrid proved too strong for the new-look United team on the night and won 2-1 in a fairly routine victory.
Casemiro scored the first goal in the 24th minute although there was more than a hint of offside as he ran off the United defence.
Isco scored the second in a stunningly simple goal after a one-two with Gareth Bale, and there was no way back after that for Mourinho’s men, despite a first competitive goal for Lukaku in United colours.
Here are three talking points from the game ahead of United’s first Premier League match, at home to West Ham on Sunday.
Chelsea 0 Man United 1
Anyone watching this game and listening to what Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has been saying over the past couple of weeks will be perplexed. Conte has complained that his squad is threadbare, especially in midfield, and the club is actively pursuing a move for Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater. The Evening Standard reports that Chelsea will have to pay in excess of £30million for the 27-year-old. So why on earth did they sell Nemanja Matic? Reports suggest that Conte wasn’t exactly on-board with his transfer, and was quoted in the Metro as saying, “I don’t know nothing about this. You have to ask the club,” when asked about the status of the player’s move before the deal went through. He may well have been surplus to requirements after Tiemoué Bakayoko joined, but if so why are Chelsea actively pursuing Drinkwater? Matic oozed class and composure in a United side that was dominated by Real Madrid in the Super Cup, and the net result is that Chelsea are weaker and one of their immediate rivals stronger at the start of this season’s Premier League. That seems like a pretty stupid move but you can chalk another one up to Jose Mourinho.
Jury out on Lukaku
There’s no doubting Romelu Lukaku’s credentials and his goals in a side that weren’t even top six in the Premier League last season were impressive. But there were still question marks over his all-round performance and they’re still nagging after an mixed game for United. It’s tough as a striker when you’re up against the Real Madrid defence, and Lukaku hinted at goals to come when he won a header strongly against Sergio Ramos in the first half only to put his effort straight at the keeper. Lukaku will also be annoyed at teammate Paul Pogba for choosing to shoot instead of putting Lukaku through on goal when they had a 3 v 2 advantage at the back. However, it’s important a striker gets off the mark quickly at a new club and Lukaku missed an absolute sitter in the 53rd minute, blazing the ball high with the goal gaping. Fans will be so glad that he made amends with a sharp if simple finish from a Matic shot in the 62nd minute and will be hoping Lukaku can answer any remaining questions with another goal at Old Trafford in the opening league game against West Ham on Sunday.
Champions League? You’re having a laugh
Man United looked second rate in almost every area of the game on Tuesday night. It might be a bit unfair – they were playing the best team in Europe after all – but it showed again that there’s a big gulf between Europe’s elite and the best that England have to offer. It’s a big leap to imagine that Man United have a shot at winning the Champions League this year – odds of 16/1 with SkyBet seem about right, with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris St Germain and Juventus all at shorter odds to life the trophy. This isn’t a Man United problem – it’s an English football problem. The Super Cup just highlighted it again.
In other Man United news, this defender is set for a medical as Man United agree deal with PL rivals.