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."
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 (71.7 million euros) 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 that 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 the games in China.
"Basically in China I will play with these guys that are training for 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."
Wigan, United Kingdom | AFP |