'The last thing I want to do is hurt players' - Jose Mourinho on axing Wayne Rooney from starting XI
Published 24/09/2016 | 11:39
Wayne Rooney has been dropped from Manchester United's starting XI for the visit of champions Leicester to Old Trafford.
The 30-year-old club captain's place in the side has been questioned in recent weeks following several sub-par performances.
Rooney, who is listed among the substitutes, is one of four to drop out of Mourinho's starting line-up, alongside Marouane Fellaini, Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial.
Both Shaw and Martial ended last weekend's 4-2 defeat at Watford with injuries.
Daley Blind comes in at left-back, Ander Herrera starts in midfield, while Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata come into the forward line.
Asked about his decision to drop Rooney, Mourinho said: "Rashford plays and Lingard plays. The question I knew would be Rooney but the question should be why Lingard and Rashford. Because they are quick, the way they stretch the game and when our main striker is Zlatan we need fast people to surround him.
"The last thing I want to do is hurt players. In a normal football media, in a normal football country I would say we have 23 players we have very important games and if Rooney doesn't play today he plays the next one. In other circumstances it's just a normal decision. "
Speaking on Sky Sports, Gary Neville backed Mourinho's decision to bench Rooney.
"In some ways, it’s become a distraction and that’s not good. It’s the right decision to leave him out today.
"He’s entering a period of his career where he needs to be managed towards the end of his career - it happened with Robson, Giggs, Scholes. He can have the same end to his career where he plays 25/30 games a season, still contribute.
"He can play in a Europa League game and Zlatan can play on a Sunday. He has to accept that.
"It happens to every player, and he should be relaxed about it. He’s played 800 football matches. It’s impossible for him to think he’s the same player he was 10 years ago.
"It’s the right thing for Wayne Rooney: he has looked mentally and physically shot in the last two weeks. Have a rest and come back stronger."
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Blind; Pogba, Herrera; Rashford, Mata, Lingard, Ibrahimovic.
Substittues: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Rojo, Carrick, Fellaini, Young, Rooney.
Leicester City: Zieler, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Mahrez, Drinkwater, Amartey, Albrighton, Slimani, Vardy.
Substitutes: Hernández, King, Hamer, Schlupp, Okazaki, Gray, Ulloa.