Manchester United-Brighton & Hove Albion Preview
Not even a season-opening victory seems to be enough to keep rumours of departure from swirling around Jose Mourinho.
For the moment, Mourinho will be on the touchline Sunday when his Manchester United side visit the AMEX to face Brighton & Hove Albion.
A successful Paul Pogba penalty early and Luke Shaw goal late gave United a 2-1 victory over Leicester City last week at Old Trafford to kick off the season. While the result was ideal, it hasn't changed the circumstances surrounding Mourinho's future with the Red Devils.
Reports continue to surface that the unequivocal Mourinho is in danger of losing his job. Perhaps for reasons such as Man United's disappointment over all competitions last season and his reported rift with star Pogba, who also reportedly wants out of Old Trafford even though he was awarded the captain's armband from Mourinho against Leicester.
Those same reports suggest French legend and Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has interest in the United position. Mourinho, beginning his third campaign with Man U, lost his job at Real Madrid in June 2013 following his third season as coach and was done in the middle of his third with Chelsea in December 2015.
In the meantime, Mourinho should have his side prepared to face Brighton after a strong showing to open the season.
"I think we will have the same players (as against Leicester)," Mourinho told Manchester United's official website. "I think normally we could have more."
That means Romelu Lukaku, who came off the bench against Leicester, should be more fit from his World Cup stay. It's almost certain Sergio Romero, Antonio Valencia, Diogo Dalot, Marcos Rojo, Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic will again be out. Pogba will be there, too. Despite the rumours involving the World Cup winner, he continues to put on a good face for United, at least in the public eye.
"I'm very happy and really happy we started with a win," he said.
Regardless of the internal or external issues involving the club, Man United should still have enough focus to handle Brighton. However, the Red Devils fell 1-0 at the AMEX on May 4, via Pascal Gross' 57th minute goal in a result that obviously didn't sit well with anybody associated with United.
Brighton, who avoided relegation in their first Premier League stay last season, need to bounce back following a 2-0 loss at Watford last weekend. The Seagulls were outshot 20-6 and did not record any on target.
"We need to improve because if we play like that in our next matches, it won't be an easy season," defender Bernardo told Brighton's official website.
"I have the impression that we didn't give our best performance, but I'm sure we have the quality and mentality to correct things and have a good season. … With time and more games together, we will get better chemistry and play better matches."
There's a good chance Iran international Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Mali midfielder Yves Bissouma could make their first starts after both came on as substitute versus Watford. However, veteran right-back and captain Bruno Saltor could be out after suffering a hamstring injury in the opener.
"Bruno is a very important player, and when he's not playing, that's not good for us," Bernardo said.
Updated August 17, 2018