Football

Shaw's holiday 'sacrifice' paying off

Jose Mourinho paid tribute to England left back Luke Shaw as he continued his comeback from a 10-month injury lay-off in the new Manchester United manager's first game in charge of the club.

Shaw, out since suffering a double leg break in a Champions League tie at PSV Eindhoven, came through the first 45 minutes of a 2-0 victory at Championship side Wigan as the Portuguese manager began the latest chapter of his career in winning style.

"When I found Luke at the training ground, it was a surprise for me because I thought he couldn't be ready to train without any type of limitation, but he did fantastic in the summer," said Mourinho.

"He sacrificed his holiday. He stayed in Manchester and was at the training ground every day putting himself in condition.

Of course you lose a bit of sharpness of condition and confidence that is normal, but he is trying hard.

"He was mad to play for more than just 45 minutes but, for me, it is better 45 safe minutes than more, so let's go step by step."

Shaw, 21, looked composed and fit, even in such low-key surroundings, and is clearly relishing the challenge of re-establishing himself in the United line-up under the new manager.

"I'm just looking forward and to carry on doing what I did last year from the start," said Shaw.

"Everyone helped me from the club and my family and friends played a massive part in helping me through, so a massive thanks to all them.

"I don't want to put things in my mind, I am going to take it as it comes. The main thing is to get through pre-season and to be ready. Every pre-season is important. But I have been out for 10 months and I can't wait to get going."

GET BEHIND THE TEAM

Shaw's return was just one of the positive aspects of Saturday's friendly as Mourinho was without 14 international players, who have been granted an extended summer break, but still handed debuts to nearly £60 million ($107m) of new signings in defender Eric Bailly and midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

On a personal level, Mourinho was also handed a warm response from the 5,500 United supporters who had made the short journey to Wigan to support their team.

"It is nice to feel welcome and that they are behind the team," said Mourinho.

"My reaction is that honestly I would prefer them to go with the players.

"I prefer them to go with the team, I prefer them to go with Man United. They are the ones on the pitch and they are the ones who need support and if I could tell them that, I would tell them directly: First the players. I am the last one after them.

"It is nice to feel that the things I liked in the game they also liked, you could feel from some of their reactions that they liked it."

United now travel to China for friendly games against Borussia Dortmund in Shanghai and a Manchester Derby with City in Beijing.

The 14 United players who were on international duty this summer, including England trio Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford and Chris Smalling, return to the first-team fold this week, although Mourinho claims they will not play in China.

"Basically, in China, I will play with the guys who have been training for the past 10 days and the Rooneys and Rashfords and Smallings, these guys are coming to China without training so I am not going to play them," he explained.

"I have two training processes, one for those that are close to (full) condition and one process for the players coming from their holidays." - AFP.

Mkhitaryan: 
I will get better

PHOTO: REUTERS

Henrikh Mkhitaryan believes he will keep on improving at Manchester United.

The Armenian midfielder, who joined United from Borussia Dortmund on a four-year deal earlier this summer, played a crucial part in his new club's 2-0 friendly win against Wigan on Saturday.

Mkhitaryan (above), who was taken off at half-time as part of seven planned substitutions, appeared happy with his debut performance and hinted there would be more to come.

"I would say it was a good game," Mkhitaryan told MUTV.

"The first half was a little bit difficult because we couldn't score a goal.

"But whatever, we made a good game and thank you to my teammates. I was trying to feel comfortable. Day by day, it will be better."

When asked how he was settling in at United, he said: "I am trying, because the first days are always very difficult.

"You have to get to know your teammates and their qualities, so I am trying to learn everything very quickly.

"Game by game, it will be better and better. Of course we're getting ready for the new season, so we are trying to do everything the coach is asking of us."

Mkhitaryan was a hit with United fans who were impressed with his creative display in the first 45 minutes, before second-half goals from Will Keane and Andreas Pereira secured the victory against the Latics.

The 27-year-old has already been hailed as a "top-class player" and "magnificent" by United manager, Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho said: "Mkhitaryan is a top-class player and currently at the best stage for a footballer - 27/28 years old.

"He is magnificent the way he thinks about football, he thinks very quickly and it's so sweet how he touches the ball.

"He can play in different positions behind the striker. He doesn't have the sharpness yet, but his performance was very positive." - PA Sport.

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