Jose Mourinho was definitely in the zone on his first appearance as Manchester United manager — and his players knew it.
Unlike predecessor Louis van Gaal, Mourinho cajoled and gestured his way through 90 minutes stationed in the technical area, not a clipboard or notebook in sight.
FA Cup final hero Jesse Lingard was just one of those on the pitch to feel the force of the new boss’s wisdom. The winger will not be caught ball-watching and drifting in from the right-hand touchline again.
Jose Mourinho was typically animated on the sideline as he took charge of his first Manchester United game
Mourinho cut an animated figure at the DW Stadium as he oversaw his first game at the United helm
The United chief’s face was in expressive form as his side comfortably won 2-0 against Wigan
The former Chelsea manager signed match programmes for delighted fans prior to kick off at the DW Stadium
Mourinho (right) takes his seat in the Wigan dugout out alongside trusted ally Rui Faria and his coaching staff
It had the feel of a new era after the formally and austere Van Gaal period. And up in the stands at Wigan’s DW Stadium, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward would have been relieved as well as pleased with United’s 2-0 victory.
Two of the club’s big three summer signings, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly, looked sharp on their debuts and the size of Mourinho’s squad meant he was able to use 22 players, even though a further 14 are still on breaks after the Euro 2016 and Copa America tournaments.
Of course, first impressions are not everything but it is worth remembering that David Moyes lost his first game to a patchwork select XI in Thailand.
Despite it being a pre-season friendly Mourinho was not without his notebook as he assessed his players
Mourinho spent some time with influential club legend Sir Bobby Charlton prior to kick-off
Mourinho and his trusty band of lieutenants (l-r) Ricardo Formosinho, Emilio Alvarez, Silvino Louro, Assistant manager Rui Faria watch from the bench
This was altogether more impressive and two of the players under threat, Juan Mata and Daley Blind, really caught the eye with fine performances. Blind proved his ability at centre-half and left-back while Luke Shaw looked untroubled in the opening 45 minutes as he played his first game since breaking a leg in September.
Mourinho was feted by the large United support and shook hands with all his players and the officials at the end, although Mata, the man he sold to United in 2014 while at Chelsea, got an arm round the shoulder before the full embrace.
The United manager later explained, doe-eyed, that he does not want a cult of personality to be built around him at the club.
He said he preferred it if the supporters’ plaudits went to his players rather than himself. The inevitable first chants for Mourinho came within 60 seconds of kick-off.
‘What I found was unbelievable for the first time in my career. The support for a friendly like this was like it was a crucial Premier League match. Unbelievable,’ he said.
Mourinho drinks from a water bottle and praised the United fans for their warm welcome
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (right) offered Manchester United fans a glimpse of his talents during his full debut
‘I would prefer them [the supporters] 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 who need support and if I could tell them that, I would tell them directly: first the players. I’m the last one after them.
‘But it is nice to feel welcome and that they are behind the team. It is nice to feel they liked the things I liked.’
Mourinho saw United play some entertaining football in the first half without penetrating.
The £28 million Mkhitaryan glided past defenders like a proper No 10 but he also missed the best chance when Lingard, following Mourinho’s orders, crossed from the flank after a neat one-two with Ander Herrera.
The 53-year-old Portuguese made seven changes at the interval and two of his substitutes combined within three minutes of the re-start.
Juan Mata was reunited with Mourinho – the man who sold him to the club and they embraced at full-time
New Manchester United manager Mourinho was presented with some cakes after the win over Wigan
Wigan’s 41-year-old goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen made a hash of a pass which was intercepted by Mata and the Spaniard unselfishly set up Will Keane for a tap-in.
After 59 minutes Ander Herrera — who later earned praise from Mourinho — had a shot blocked and 20-year-old Brazilian Andreas Pereira rifled in the rebound.
Mourinho has options everywhere. Phil Jones, complete with new bleach-blond haircut, came on for the second 45 minutes to partner £30 m Bailly at the back, with Blind shifting to left-back.
Next stop is China where a raft of Euro 2016 players including Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling and Marcus Rashford, will travel without playing either game against Borussia Dortmund on Friday or Manchester City on the following Monday.
For now, Mourinho is satisfied. ‘It was very good,’ he said. ‘The result was not the most important thing obviously but we prefer to win than to lose.
‘I could see things, I could see that they started identifying things and trying to play my football. We had great periods in the first half, we had good situations to score a couple of beautiful goals.
‘In the second half we scored early and then we had the understanding of the game to play with stability and to keep possession of the ball and to control the game very well.’
20-year-old Brazilian Andreas Pereira hit the second and is congratulated by new signing Eric Bailly (centre)