Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho, has insisted that there’s nothing wrong with Man United and England captain, Wayne Rooney, even though his teammates beat defending Premier League champions Leicester without the captain on Saturday.
“There is not a problem with Wayne Rooney,” he explained. “My captain is my captain whether he is on the pitch or at home. We won the game so he is happy.”
Why did he decide to leave him out? “Because I know the rules of the game,” said Mourinho. “You can only pick 11 men. If I leave out Rashford you ask me why. If I leave out Rooney you ask me why, but I cannot pick them all. I have a squad of players and I thought the best option against a quick-breaking side like Leicester was to play with two fast players out wide with Juan Mata in the middle.”
That certainly seemed to work, indeed many United supporters will be questioning whether faster players should be selected as a matter of course and not just against Leicester. Even though three of the home side’s goals came from corners the overall performance was aggressive and entertaining.
“It is not normal to score three times from a corner, but the intensity of our pressure led to the corners and therefore the goals. I was pleased with the way we reacted when we lost the ball, we made a good start and kept going.”
Paul Pogba scored his first goal for United and looked a class apart in midfield, where he was paired with Ander Herrera, who endured a difficult season under Louis van Gaal but impressed Mourinho. “The pair complement each other in midfield,” he said. “Pogba still needs to be consistent, but you can say that about the team as a whole. I know Herrera from La Liga. He is a good player, I like him a lot.”
Mourinho stopped short of saying United’s title bid is back on track but pointed out that because his side have yet to draw a return of 12 points from six games is not too shabby. He has no regrets about going public with his desire to win a title in his first season. “I said that because I thought it is what United would demand, this is a club that should be going for the title. I did not say it because I thought it was going to be easy.”
While Leicester might have made it look that way last season, this time they are finding it more of a struggle. “We cannot use the Champions League as an excuse, we conceded three goals at corners,” said Claudio Ranieri. “We lost our shape and our concentration, and that is not like us. If we lose we lose, I can accept that, but maintaining our shape is our strength. At half-time I thought it better to preserve Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy for the next match. We need to forget this result and regroup quickly because we have another big game on Tuesday.”