Jose Mourinho shifted praise to his substitutes after they were key in maintaining Manchester United’s 100 per cent start in the 2-0 win over Leicester.
Having drawn 10 times at home in the Premier League last season, a United crowd Mourinho thought was “quiet” must have felt a sense of deja vu as their latest stubborn visitors refused to be breached for more than a hour, with Kasper Schmeichel even saving a Romelu Lukaku penalty.
However, the cavalry arrived to save the day as replacements Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini scored shortly after coming on, the latter having been set up by another substitute Jesse Lingard, to seal United’s third victory in as many fixtures.
Mourinho’s programme notes were reserved for those who had played little or no part in United’s good start and afterwards he once more lauded those on the fringes.
“This is about the quality of the players, the players are good, and not just good, they are motivated to help the players,” the Portuguese said.
“It doesn’t matter if they play from the beginning, if they come from the bench. The group is solid, very, very friendly in between games and (there’s) great empathy.
“I’m really happy, not for me. When (managers) make changes, we always make the right changes, sometimes it works against us. I’m happy for them, for Marouane, for Jesse, for Marcus.”
United’s issue last term was a failure to beat teams on home soil, with 10 draws outweighing their eight victories, and it looked early on as if another of those nights was in store at Old Trafford.
Juan Mata’s disallowed goal in the first half was followed by Schmeichel guessing correctly when Lukaku stepped up from 12 yards, but Mourinho was pleased his team kept probing and were eventually rewarded.
“We haven’t had many matches last season where we played 90 minutes with the control we had today,” he said.
“We had a very good and solid performance. After we missed a penalty with half an hour to go, normally there is always a little collapse and that didn’t happen.
“We kept creating, playing, creating chances and getting corners, and in the end it was from a corner that we scored the first goal.”
Not that Mourinho witnessed Rashford volleying in Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s corner three minutes after he was introduced.
“We scored from a corner that I didn’t even see because I was speaking with Lingard,” the United boss said.
“I saw the ball jumping in the net and other guys jumping. The crowd were very quiet so it would be easy to know that was a goal because it was the first time I really understand that the stadium was full.”
Foxes manager Craig Shakespeare was disappointed that his team were undone at a set piece once more having been denied a point at Arsenal in their first game when Olivier Giroud nodded in a late winner from a corner.
“It’s a set play and we need to be mindful that it doesn’t become an Achilles heel for us,” Shakespeare said.
“We spoke about it after the Arsenal game, we worked on it but we have to put it into action out there.
“It can be an organisation thing but we’ve worked on it and sometimes teams will naturally put five attackers in the box. On that occasion they put the six and we need to be more alert and alive to that.”