Paul Pogba, named captain for the night by Mourinho, and Luke Shaw earned United a hard-fought win at Old Trafford before Jamie Vardy added a consolation in stoppage time.
Mourinho will be grateful of the three points after a summer of difficulties and frustration. United failed to bring the two new signings Mourinho publicly requested and his preference for experienced players in their late-20s was not shared by the club’s hierarchy.
The United manager claimed earlier this week that United would have a ‘difficult’ season without additions to their squad. When asked if he still felt the same after beating Leicester, he said: “Of course. It will be a difficult season for everybody not just for us.
“For us, it will be a difficult season because I had my plans and had my plans for many months and I find myself in the beginning of the Premier League with the market closed,” he told Sky Sports.
“I find myself in the situation I thought I was not going to be in. I think it is the last time I speak about it. It’s over, it’s finished, the market is closed now, no more talk about it.”
Mourinho then pointedly suggested that the role of the manager is changing in modern world. Whereas traditionally managers controlled many aspects of the club – including transfers – a modern ‘head coach’ is typically only tasked with organising the team.
“I think football is changing,” Mourinho said. “Football managers should be called now more head coaches. We have big and multifunctional coaching staffs, I think we are more the head coach than the manager, that is the way I think football is going.”
Mourinho also compared Leicester’s summer spending to that of his own club. Claude Puel welcomed £101.5m worth of arrivals to the east Midlands this summer, while United’s outlay was approximately £73m.
“We play against a team that invest more than us,” the United manager said. “They spent more money than us, so in the Premier League we must get used to teams with players of the same quality that we have. Forget the name, the history, the shirt, every match is difficult.”
On whether his side can challenge for the Premier League title this season, Mourinho repeated his claim from Friday that United’s true strength will only be known several months into the season.
“Words can come easy or not easy,” he said. “We have to wait for end of November, beginning of December to understand how things are going and if we can fight for the title. Or you believe in the pundits and go with what they say.”