Belfast Telegraph

Mourinho is happy to let Manchester United throw off the shackles

Man United 2 Leicester City 0

By Liam Blackburn

Manchester United's free-scoring start is refuting the notion that Jose Mourinho is a defensive-minded manager, but the Portuguese accepts there will still be times this season where a more pragmatic approach is required.

United have scored 10 goals in three Premier League games so far, with the latest two enough to defeat Leicester at Old Trafford on Saturday and maintain their 100% start.

They managed just 54 goals across all 38 games last term, fewer than Bournemouth, and Mourinho has sought to address that by signing Romelu Lukaku over the summer.

The Belgian striker has already netted three times for an in-form United side which Mourinho has been happy to let off the leash.

Asked about the critics who accuse him of being overly defensive, Mourinho replied: "Maybe they are going to say that because my team are not conceding goals. Maybe they say I'm defensive.

"We are playing well. Probably in some matches where we are not playing well, probably we are going to be defensive.

"Probably if in some match the opponent is playing better than us we have to be pragmatic and realistic and defend.

"But in these three matches we didn't need that because the team was in good control, but I'm not getting carried away. Three matches, nine points, it's good, a plus-10 goal average is good. But it's three matches."

Mourinho attributes United racing out of the blocks to the work they did during their pre-season tour of the United States, where Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona were among their opponents.

"We had a very good pre-season," he added.

"We worked really well, had great conditions, to work together 24 hours per day in a beautiful atmosphere in Los Angeles.

"We played against good teams, the best team in the world (Real Madrid) twice. The pre-season was very complete and then we start the Premier League and are playing well."

Leicester frustrated United for over an hour on Saturday, with Kasper Schmeichel even saving a penalty from Lukaku, but substitutes Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini scored in the second period to break their resistance.

The Foxes have visited the Emirates Stadium and Old Trafford so far this term and host champions Chelsea in their first game back after the international break.

"We said at the start of the season 'What a challenging start but what an exciting start'," added manager Craig Shakespeare.

"We have to dust ourselves down now. We have to regroup when we get back and go again."

Shakespeare's hope now is that all of his players will be returning after an international break which also sees the transfer window's closure, with Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez having all been seen in the gossip columns recently.

"There's speculation about quite a lot of our players but that's all it is - speculation," Shakespeare said.

"The reality is the window's here and we have to deal with it. We would like to add to the squad."

Man Utd: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind, Matic, Pogba, Mata (Rashford, 67 mins), Mkhitaryan (Fellaini, 73 mins), Martial (Lingard 75), Lukaku. Unused subs: Romero, Darmian, Smalling, Herrera.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, Ndidi, James, Albrighton (Gray, 60 mins), Okazaki (King, 60 mins), Vardy (Slimani 75). Unused subs: Harmer, Chilwell , Amartey, Iheanacho.

Referee: Michael Oliver

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