MANCHESTER — Jose Mourinho denied that his team changes, including dropping captain Wayne Rooney, were the reason for Manchester United thrashing Leicester City 4-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday and said the England international remains a big part of his plans.

Without Rooney and Marouane Fellaini, United were rampant in the first half and went into half-time with a 4-0 lead. The United captain, who has made a poor start to the season, had to settle for a late cameo off the bench.

Asked about the 30-year-old, Mourinho told Sky Sports: “He’s a big player for me, a big player for United, a big player for this country.

“He’s my man, I trust him completely. He’s as happy as I am at this moment and that’s the team.”

When asked in his postmatch news conference whether the changes were the reason for United’s triumph, manager Mourinho replied: “No, I don’t think so. I think the result was because we started very well and we didn’t stop until we closed the game. If the team plays well, it is easier to have good individual performances.

“My captain is my captain. If he is on the pitch or he is at home, he is my captain, so that is not a problem. Today, against a team like Leicester, we thought that the solution for us was to play with the two fast kids and with [Juan] Mata in a position where he could interact.

“If I don’t play [Marcus] Rashford, you ask me why. If I don’t play [Jesse] Lingard, you ask me why. And you always prefer to ask why somebody is not playing.

“Sometimes, when I read what you write, I feel I know nothing about football. One thing I know is the rules of the game. I can only start with 11. Unless someone tells me there is a change in that, I can only start with 11.”

United’s man of the match was Paul Pogba, who had been struggling for form before facing Leicester. The France midfielder headed in United’s fourth goal and was influential in much of their buildup play.

Mourinho said: “He played OK against Southampton. He played OK against Hull City. When the team played not so well, he didn’t play so well. When the team plays better, he plays better.

“Obviously we all want more from him and the team. Him and Ander [Herrera] in midfield were good and a good compliment to each other.”

United had gone into the game under pressure, despite Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Northampton Town in the EFL Cup, as they had lost three matches in a row in all competitions before the trip to the Sixfields Stadium. Mourinho insisted that he had a good feeling before the Leicester game despite that run.

“I’m always positive,” he said. “Today, I was a lot more positive than I have been for other matches.

“I know we scored three goals from corners — which is not normal. But look at what led to that. There was the intensity of our pressure, the way we controlled their counter-attacks, the way we reacted every time when losing the ball.

“Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] played so well, in terms of his organisation of the attack. The kids too were really fast and aggressive, attacking the spaces.”

Mourinho also said Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitrayan were not “100 percent ready” to play in Saturday’s game but denied they are fully injured.

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Culled from ESPNFC