MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Jose Mourinho says Manchester United’s rehabilitation will be a steady process but Friday’s 2-0 win over Southampton indicated the team are quickly rediscovering their vim and verve under the new manager.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice while Paul Pogba, the world’s most expensive player, impressed on his first outing in his second spell at the club, prompting the kind of atmosphere that has been increasingly rare in recent seasons of toil at Old Trafford.
Mourinho, who replaced Dutchman Louis van Gaal in the close season, has called on the squad to bring the fear factor back to the stadium and even at this early stage of their development there seems to be an aura about United again.
“The players are happy with some details which belong to the nature of this club,” said Mourinho after his side made it two wins from two Premier League matches this season.
“We can’t be the same United of the 80s, 90s and early 2000s as soccer has changed a lot.
“There is an evolution in things and we have to go in relation to that. It’s a natural evolution, step by step,” added Mourinho.
“We brought to the game some aspects of the United culture, the first goal is a great example of that.”
Ibrahimovic, who met Wayne Rooney’s fine cross with a thumping header in the 36th minute, led the line with an Eric Cantona-esque air of self-belief as United played with the swagger that has been missing since the retirement of all-conquering former manager Alex Ferguson in 2013.
“We need to get used to winning,” said Ibrahimovic, “the mental part is important.
“Everything is new. It’s like a big puzzle, we need to put the puzzle together.”
For the first time since 2000, the world’s most expensive footballer has not been signed by Real Madrid, and while Pogba is a ‘Galactico’ in every sense, his return “home”, as Ibrahimovic described it, can provide United with a big lift.
“I came here to win, that’s what I always wanted,” said the France midfielder who has gone back to his first club from Juventus for a fee of 89 million pounds ($116.35 million).
“We need to get used to winning and carry on like this. We dream big. United are a big club, I know we will do big things this season.”
Pogba gave a dynamic display, managing more interceptions than any other player and completing more dribbles.
There was more than a hint of fellow countryman Patrick Vieira about his performance and United fans will be hoping they have finally found a long-awaited successor to former Ireland midfielder Roy Keane who shone under Ferguson.
Writing by Ed Dove; Editing by Tony Jimenez