Jose Mourinho’s first Premier League team selection as Manchester United manager contained a few surprises.
Daley Blind, Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata all started in the Red Devils’ 3-1 win over Bournemouth, despite rampant speculation that each would be sold this summer.
Mata, whose exit was deemed most inevitable when Mourinho was confirmed as United’s new manager, played the most significant role, breaking the deadlock in the 40th-minute.
The Spaniard started ahead of summer signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the south coast and he, along with his fellow surprise inclusions, look set to remain at Old Trafford for the time being.
Or at least that’s what Mourinho’s previous activity in the transfer market indicates.
The twice-sacked Chelsea coach doesn’t tend to let many first-team players leave permanently beyond the start of the campaign, especially those who he has picked to play.
In his previous two posts – at Chelsea and Real Madrid before that – the Portuguese oversaw a total of 58 outgoings.
Released youngsters comprise the bulk of the deals, but of this sizeable number, Mourinho has shipped out just five players with genuine first-team prospects.
They include Samuel Eto’o and Oriol Romeu from Chelsea and Rafael van der Vaart, Lassana Diarra and Esteban Granero from Real Madrid.
Of the quintet, it was only Diarra who got game time in any matches in the early exchanges of the season he was sold.
So starting Blind, Fellaini, Herrera and Mata, it seems, was not an attempt to increase their market value, or dupe a suitor to think they’re more integral to United’s plans than they actually are, but proof that they’re a significant part of Mourinho’s modus operandi until the winter at least.