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Mourinho explains why he benched Rooney for Arsenal clash

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Rooney dropped for the Arsenal game
Rooney dropped for the Arsenal game

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has revealed he left captain Wayne Rooney out of his starting line-up against Arsenal on Saturday because he wanted quicker players in his team.

Rooney has been the focus of intense media speculation in the UK after he was photographed enjoying a late-night drink in the England team hotel last Sunday and his absence from the United team raised a few eyebrows.

After he made his return to Mourinho's line-up for the win at Swansea prior to the international break, Rooney was a high profile substitute in the 1-1 draw against Arsenal, with his manager offering this explanation.

“I thought we were going to have the ball. Arsenal are a team who let the opponents play," stated Mourinho.

"I thought we would have space and the ball would arrive quite easily to the attacking players.

"I believed ones like Mata, Martial and Rashford were faster than Wayne, better attacking opponents one to one in the last line. I thought it was the best option.”

Mourinho admitted the draw against Arsenal felt like a defeat after Olivier Giroud's late equaliser, as he insisted he is not worried about the stuttering form of his United team.

"We had one transfer window and four months of work. We have lots of young players and older players," he reflected.

"We need to do a lot of work, but if you see Burnley, Stoke, Arsenal (all draws), if you have six more points which we totally deserved, where would we be?”

Meanwhile, Mourinho hinted he was ready to hand veteran midfielder Michael Carrick another one-year contract, as he has been impressed by his presence on and off the pitch at United.

“Michael is 35 years old. With such an intense game he was having some cramps in the last period, which is normal,” he added.

“It is very sad to know that time flies for every one of us. He is such a fantastic player and it is a pity. I always loved him but instead of being his manager when he was 24 I am his manager when he is 35.

"We have a good understanding. We know when he can play. We know when he is ready and when he needs a rest.

"I am still having Michael Carrick and probably for one more season.”