"Manchester United are one of the top three football clubs in the world, no doubt about it, but the football club is one thing and the team's credentials going into a competition are another thing entirely", he said. He is just one of many coaches in my footballing career. If he pulls it off - and few would bet against it - the feat will install the Frenchman in the pantheon of football's greatest managers.
This first title of the season will be the opportunity for the Portuguese to recover from a bad taste in his mouth against a club where he won a Copa del Rey, a Spanish Super Cup and a LaLiga, but who he had to leave under a cloud.
Ernesto Valverde has lost Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain and so far attempts to replace the Brazilian with Philippe Coutinho or Ousmane Dembele have been met with cool disregard from Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund.More news: Woman flags down vehicle hours after small plane crashes near Adrian
"We are going to try", he said. The Real captain would probably not make a similar statement about Paco Alcacer or Munir El Haddadi. Coutinho, Dembele or Kylian Mbappe may arrive before the end of August but it is unlikely any deal will be done in time for a Super Cup appearance.
Zidane could also bring in playmaker Isco, and return to a 4-3-3 system by giving Cristiano Ronaldo a first start of the season.
That contrasted with claims at the time that he had fallen out with some of the players, with Ramos having allegedly given an "either he goes or I go" ultimatum to Madrid president Florentino Perez. What Mourinho tries then will be telling, since this really is a game for experimentation rather than any true tension, much as some media tried to manufacture it beforehand.More news: Isco Pens New Real Madrid Contract With Enormous Release Clause
But on a sweltering night in the Macedonian capital, last season's Europa League winners improved in the final stages after Romelu Lukaku reduced the deficit, and substitute Marcus Rashford nearly equalised late on.
The 2014 Super Cup was the last to be affected by the regulation: since the following year, a change to the Disciplinary Code means that bans carried over from the domestic curtain-raiser now take effect in subsequent LaLiga or Copa fixtures. He has not been afforded that opportunity from kickoff since the 2-3 Liga loss in Camp Nou last April.
There have been suggestions in Spain that Madrid are willing to part company with the 28-year-old as they move for Monaco's Kylian Mbappe, giving hope to long-standing admirers United. The season before, a 2-2 draw in Madrid was followed by a 3-2 home win for Barcelona.More news: Android O rumored for August 21st release
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