Mourinho warmly received by Theatre of Dreams faithful

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho making his first appearance at Old Trafford during the Soccer Aid friendly game as an England XI took on a Rest of the World team. England ran out 3-2 winners.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho making his first appearance at Old Trafford during the Soccer Aid friendly game as an England XI took on a Rest of the World team. England ran out 3-2 winners. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANCHESTER • Jose Mourinho enjoyed a raucous reception as he watched a charity match from the stands in his first appearance at Old Trafford since being named Manchester United manager.

Just nine days after the official confirmation of his appointment, the 53-year-old was in Manchester to give his support to Unicef, which used the Soccer Aid friendly to raise money for children in danger across the world.

The former Chelsea boss originally agreed to manage an "England" team consisting of former internationals, musicians, actors and other celebrities, against a Rest of the World team coached by Leicester's Claudio Ranieri and featuring a host of retired legends.

But, following his move to United, Mourinho decided to save his first game on the home bench for the club's clash with Everton for Wayne Rooney's testimonial on Aug 3.

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce took care of the match-day management duties instead, while Mourinho watched from the directors' box as England won 3-2.

"I'm sorry I couldn't be more involved tonight, but I'm so happy and involved at the beginning of my job at Manchester United that all the time I have right now is working time," the Portuguese wrote in the match programme.

"But I love the boys at Soccer Aid so much - the atmosphere and especially the cause - that I couldn't be away on the day of the game."

Plenty of fans were waiting outside Old Trafford to greet their new manager when he got off the England team bus and some in the stands held aloft signs and banners bearing his name.

Mourinho, hired to replace Louis van Gaal on a three-year deal, was given a loud reception from supporters, some of whom snapped up scarfs emblazoned with the new United manager's name and face, and it did not take long for the Portuguese to make himself at home.

Pele was Unicef's guest of honour and Mourinho posted a photo on his Instagram account of him and the Brazil legend as they shook hands in front of a Manchester United badge in the players' tunnel.

The caption to Mourinho's photo read, "An honour to host Pele at my new house" and he also posted a picture of himself standing in the tunnel looking towards the pitch.

Mourinho gave an interview to ITV before kick-off, but his microphone broke before he could get into full flow.

"I'm very happy to be here, and especially alongside Ranieri, who won the Premier League, and Sam, who saved Sunderland from relegation," Mourinho said.

"It's a shame I've really not had a chance to enjoy this season as much as they did."

Mourinho will take charge of his first United game against Borussia Dortmund in Shanghai on July 22.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2016, with the headline 'Mourinho warmly received by Theatre of Dreams faithful'. Print Edition | Subscribe