25 Sep No captain, my captain
Jose Mourinho played down the significance of his decision to leave Wayne Rooney out of Manchester United’s starting line-up against Leicester.
The captain only came off the bench for the final minutes of the match, which United won 4-1.
Rooney has been heavily criticised for his recent performances and Mourinho shuffled his pack from last week’s defeat by Watford, also leaving out Marouane Fellaini and bringing in Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata.
It worked, with United’s front players tearing Leicester apart in the first half, including a spell of three goals in five minutes.
Mourinho, who has been critical of the ‘Einsteins’ in the press, said: “If I don’t play (Marcus) Rashford you ask me why, if I don’t play (Jesse) Lingard you ask me why, and you prefer always to ask why somebody is not playing.
“Sometimes when I read you I feel like I know nothing about football but there is one thing I know – the rules of the game. And I only can start with XI.
“I think the result was because we started very well and we didn’t stop until we closed the game. When the team plays well it’s easier to have good individual performances so I don’t think it was because of the changes.
“My captain is my captain. If he is on the pitch he feels at home. That’s not a problem. But we thought today against a team like Leicester, the way they defend, the profile of their defenders, we thought that the best solution for us was to play with the two fast kids and Mata in a position where he can interact with these young kids. It went well for us.”
United had lost three games in a row prior to their EFL Cup win over Northampton in midweek so this was a much-needed improvement.
They took the lead in the 22nd minute through Chris Smalling and that opened the floodgates for further first-half goals from Mata, Rashford and Paul Pogba.
United were content to control things in the second half and Leicester salvaged some pride thanks to a wonder goal from 20-year-old substitute Demarai Gray.
Mourinho said: “I think the last thing that the team achieve is consisten cy. The process starts with playing well in spaces and the last thing you achieve is to play well consistently.
“I said I wanted to play for the title because this is the approach I think Manchester United demands, it was not because I thought it was going to be an easy task.
“I don’t regret that because this is the way you have to think. But of course there is a process.
“Some guys adapt more quickly but I think what is more difficult for them is the fact myself and Mr Van Gaal, we think football in a different way. So it’s normal that in their football brains there are still moments of contradiction.
“And in the recent past they were not successful, and they know the responsibility to play for this club and the expectation.”
Leicester have now lost three Premier League games, the same as in the whole of their title-winning campaign.
Manager Claudio Ranieri will quickly turn his focus to Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Porto, saying: “I have to analyse this strange match because we start very well.
“But they were so clever with the corners. It is very strange because we are so strong on the corners and they scored three times.
“I think the first goal we lost, we switch off everything. We lost our shape, our confidence, our strength. We want to do something alone. No, we are a good team when we play together.
“It’s good to forget immediately because we have another match on Tuesday. But this is a very good lesson for us.”