Jose Mourinho explains why he dropped Wayne Rooney

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Football News

Ever since Manchester United lost to Watford, there have been calls for the club captain Wayne Rooney to be dropped for their next Premier League match against Leicester City. Speculation had us believe that Jose Mourinho was going to listen and now we know he has.

The Special One has taken the decision to drop Rooney from the starting XI, giving Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata the go-ahead to play up front with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Rooney will watch on from the bench with Chris Smalling wearing the captain's armband for the game against the reigning champions.

But exactly why did Mourinho feel the need to make the decision? Was he listening the thousands of fans and pundits who insisted it was necessary or did he simply come to the conclusion by himself? 

Luckily, he spoke to Sky Sports ahead of the 12.30 kick-off and explained exactly why he opted to start Lingard, Rashford and Mata. 

Pace needed

Speaking on live television, he said: "Rashford plays and Lingard plays. I knew the question would be Rooney but I think the question should be Lingard and Rashford, two young English players in the starting lineup.

Asked why Lingard and Rashford were starting, Mourinho said: "Because they are quick. Because the game is going to be intense and fast. I think when our main striker is Zlatan [Ibrahimovic], we need fast people surrounding him."

But there is no understating the magnitude of the decision to leave Rooney out of the starting XI. Some have wondered whether the veteran was droppable, such is his influence around the club and Mourinho was asked whether he believed it was a big call to make.

He said: "It depends on the way your approach it. The last thing I want to do as a manager is to hurt players or create negative situations for them.

"In normal circumstances, with normal media in a normal football country, I would say '23 players with lots of matches to play. Rooney has played the last match for 90 minutes, Rashford played 30, Lingard didn't play, we need fresh people.'"

The line-ups

 More to follow...

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Wayne Rooney
Premier League
Paul Scholes
Manchester United
Ryan Giggs
Jose Mourinho

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