Leicester flounder in united's goal rush

Left: Man of the Match Paul Pogba scoring Manchester United's fourth goal in their 4-1 victory over reigning Premier League champions Leicester yesterday. Below: Juan Mata nets the second goal in United's first-half blitz. United had already beaten L
Man of the Match Paul Pogba scoring Manchester United's fourth goal in their 4-1 victory over reigning Premier League champions Leicester yesterday. PHOTOS: ACTION IMAGES
Left: Man of the Match Paul Pogba scoring Manchester United's fourth goal in their 4-1 victory over reigning Premier League champions Leicester yesterday. Below: Juan Mata nets the second goal in United's first-half blitz. United had already beaten L
Juan Mata nets the second goal in United's first-half blitz. United had already beaten Leicester 2-1 in the Community Shield at Wembley last month.PHOTOS: ACTION IMAGES
United captain Wayne Rooney had to be content with a watching brief from the bench, coming on only in the 83rd minute against Leicester.
United captain Wayne Rooney had to be content with a watching brief from the bench, coming on only in the 83rd minute against Leicester.

Mourinho cites 'dynamism' in second victory against Foxes, but Rooney's future is clouded

MANCHESTER • It would be harsh, perhaps, to pin this result solely on the fact that Jose Mourinho had decided to remove Wayne Rooney from his starting line-up.

If this was the old Manchester United at work, it also looked suspiciously like the old Leicester City.

Put the two together and it was not just Rooney's absence that contributed to the reigning champions of England taking such a beating against a team who would desperately love to go by that title again.

It was a stylish display from a United side who had entered the game under pressure after losing their last two English Premier League games, and they responded in a ruthless 20-minute first-half burst to win 4-1 yesterday.

All the same, Mourinho is entitled to think his team selection was justified, given the margin of victory and that blitz in the first period when his side scored all their goals and looked equipped to add even more.

And as the goals rained in, it was tempting to wonder what must have been going through Rooney's mind in the dug-out.

This was certainly United's most satisfying result of the Mourinho era to date and it must pain Rooney to be limited to the role of an 83rd-minute substitute.

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Mourinho preferred to go with Juan Mata in his starting line-up and the Spaniard, operating in the No. 10 role, scored United's best goal as well as being instrumental in the part of the match when Leicester were overwhelmed.

Paul Pogba had his best game - a Man-of-the-Match performance - and scored United's fourth and his first goal since rejoining the club.

The Frenchman, who had to wait to open his scoring account after going five games without a goal following his £89 million (S$156.8 million) move from Juventus, said: "I'm very happy for the result and for the goal. Hopefully it won't be the last one."

Asked if he was bothered by criticism of him and the rest of the United squad lately, he added: "I never look at the newspapers. I say one thing - it is at the end, at the end we will see.

"We were very focused, we knew it was going to be difficult and we showed a very big performance today. We want to keep on with that."

Marcus Rashford also continued his fine scoring form after Chris Smalling's header opened the scoring.

Leicester did save some face with their second-half performance, featuring a splendid goal from the substitute Demarai Gray, but the damage had already been done.

It was the second successive Premier League away game in which Leicester had conceded four goals after suffering the same scoreline at Liverpool two weeks ago.

"It's unbelievable what happened. We started very well. Maybe we lost the final pass but it was sudden," said Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri.

"We made some mistakes, maybe it was down to concentration."

Mourinho was impressed with his side's performance and relieved to get back to winning ways.

"We were very strong against a team that is very easy to analyse but very difficult to cope with. This season we beat them twice already so I think it's a good performance. The team shone. We score four goals," he said.

"Today we had intensity, movement and dynamism. To be back home and beat the champions is good. I don't know when my players had for the last time such an impressive performance at half-time."

However, he remained coy on whether Rooney will regain his place in the starting XI for upcoming matches. But the Portuguese insisted his captain can still be a key figure for United.

"Rooney is a big player for me, a big player for United and a big player for his country. He is my man. He is happy," Mourinho said.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 25, 2016, with the headline 'Leicester flounder in united's goal rush'. Print Edition | Subscribe