Manchester United will have to wait a little longer to see the world's most expensive player, Paul Pogba, back in a red shirt, but manager Jose Mourinho has hailed the decisiveness of the club's summer transfer window. While Pogba misses out due to a suspension incurred when still at Juventus, United will go into its opening game of the Premier League season away at Bournemouth on Sunday with all of its key summer transfer targets already secured.
That efficiency is in sharp contrast to recent summers, when the club has struggled to attract top players and there often appeared to be a lack of clarity in the signings. This time around, defender Eric Bailly, attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic were all identified and brought in swiftly, even if the negotiations over Pogba did drag on.
The first three of those signings should all make their Premier League debuts on Sunday. And Mourinho has paid tribute to his and the club's decisiveness and the fact that he began his preparation long before officially taking the reins at Old Trafford.
“I was not working since December," Mourinho said in his pre-match press conference, referencing his dismissal by Chelsea last season. “I watched Manchester United play many, many times. I had an idea about the squad and when I arrived I was ready to be objective.
"This is what I would like to have, decide the numbers for each position. So if you cannot get this one then you have the second, third or fourth. Every time I was making a written report to the board, I think the board could feel consistency in my analysis.
"The targets were there on the table, after that was the club power and they were very strong, they were very good and they did everything before August 14. They could have done August 30, but, no, they did it by August 14."
While Manchester United may be raring to go at the start of the season in one regard, Mourinho also lamented the fact that he has not had enough time on the training field with his new squad as he would have liked. As well as a tour of China, which turned into farce when a friendly with Manchester City was cancelled, Mourinho has also had players arriving back late for preseason after their international commitments this summer.
The meeting with Bournemouth is a rematch of the final game of the last Premier League season, which was infamously delayed after a dummy explosive device was left at Old Trafford following a training exercise. United would eventually win the fixture 3-1, but it wasn't enough to get the club into the Champions League or save Louis van Gaal's job.
Although there are very much realistic title hopes at Old Trafford after a summer of considerable strengthening, Mourinho's first task is to ensure a return to the top table of European football. In contrast, Bournemouth would likely be quite happy with a repeat of last season's results.
Having been expected by most observers to go straight back down following its promotion to England's top tier for the first time, Bournemouth impressed everyone with its attractive style of play and ensured safety from relegation with weeks still to spare.
Manager Eddie Howe, who was linked to the England job this summer, will have reason to hope his side can do even better this campaign. The likes of Callum Wilson and Max Gradel who missed much of last season with serious injury, are now fit to start this campaign. And the south-coast club has made additions this summer, too, notably bringing in winger Jordan Ibe from Liverpool. Still, Howe is anticipating Bournemouth's second campaign to be even more challenging.
“I'm expecting it to be harder,” he said. “The novelty value will have gone from our players perspective. That's a challenge for us – that they respond to the challenge in a positive fashion not a negative fashion.
"I think the quality of the league has gone up. When you look at the managers that have come into the league, the players that have been attracted to the league, the money that has been spent. I think we've improved, but I think everybody else will have improved. So the challenge is going to be tougher and we need to make sure we respond."
Prediction: It was apparent in the Community Shield last week that Manchester United remain very much a work in progress under Mourinho. It will take time for him to extricate Van Gaal's possession philosophy from the squad and impart his own more physical, quicker counter-attacking approach. Still, only Aston Villa won fewer games at home than Bournemouth last season and the offensive style of Howe's team should give United opportunities through its pace on the flanks to get the win.
Predicted Score: Bournemouth 1-2 Manchester United
Kickoff Time: 8.30 a.m. EDT
TV Channel: NBCSN
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra