The Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho managerial era’s at Chelsea and Manchester United have began with contrasting fortunes, following the two team’s first pre-season friendly matches.
Disappointing start for Conte
Conte took charge of Chelsea for the first time against Rapid Vienna, with the Austrian Bundesliga side running out comfortable 2-0 winners.
Despite being without a number of important players who featured at Euro 2016, such as Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Pedro, Conte was still able to name a relatively strong line-up. That included his recently announced captain John Terry, as well as Diego Costa, Branislav Ivanovic and Willian, whilst Conte also handed starts to several fringe players. Among those were Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Papa Djilobodji and Victor Moses.
However Chelsea struggled to create any clear cut goal scoring opportunities throughout the game and were guilty of haphazard defending, with Conte insistent that his new team must learn lessons from the defeat.
“It’s important we now switch our minds to change. We must build through the work of our present and future. I’m unhappy with the loss and we’ll work very hard, because we want to come back and compete for the title,” declared Conte in his post match press conference, according to The Guardian.
The Italian, who has so far signed Michy Batshuayi and N’Golo Kante since arriving at Stamford Bridge, will now prepare Chelsea for their next friendly against RZ Pellets Wolfsberger AC on Wednesday.
Mourinho’s bright beginning
In contrast to Conte’s disappointing start as Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho faired far better in his first game in charge of Manchester United, as they recorded a commanding 2-0 victory against Wigan at the DW Stadium.
After a goalless first half, Mourinho made seven changes at half time, with two of his substitutes combining to score the opening goal. Juan Mata dispossessed Wigan goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainan’s before passing to Will Keane to score, with Andreas Pereira adding a second goal soon thereafter.
Although the game was not played with any real intensity, United gave an assured display, with the club’s new signings Eric Bailly and Henrikh Mkhitaryan being particularly impressive. Whilst Bailly was comfortable at the heart of defence, Mkhitaryan produced some wonderful touches, as the Armenian’s superb awareness and vision lit up an otherwise uninspiring first half.
Another positive emanating from the game for Mourinho was the return to action of left-back Luke Shaw, who made his first appearance in 10 months after suffering a double leg fracture against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League last September.
As such there were many good elements to United’s victory over Wigan, which Mourinho proclaimed himself content with. “I’m very happy, the result obviously is no the most important thing but it is always important. Best of all was something that I never had before which was a friendly match that I could call a training session against opposition and I never saw something like this,” Mourinho revealed to MUTV.
United’s next pre-season friendly is against Borussia Dortmund on Friday, when Mkhitaryan is likely to face his former club.
Conte and Mourinho managerial era’s underway
Following their first games in charge, the managerial reigns of Conte and Mourinho at Chelsea and Manchester United respectively are now officially underway, in what represents the opening of a new chapter in the history of both clubs.
Furthermore, a healthy competitive rivalry is likely to transpire between Conte and Mourinho which could quite conceivably turn out to be as intriguing as that which existed between Mourinho, when he managed Chelsea, and one of his predecessors at Manchester United, the great Sir Alex Ferguson.