Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho insisted that Wayne Rooney is a big player for the club, even through the Portuguese had dropped the United skipper earlier in the day. Mourinho watched his side blow Champions Leicester City away with an impressive first half display. A win was needed at Old Trafford after the 2-1 defeat to Manchester City and the the 3-1 loss away at Watford last Sunday. Rooney has been criticised for his performances, which stretches back to Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season in 2012/13.
Rooney has been chasing Sir Bobby Charlton’s all time goalscoring record for some now, and despite only being three goals away – it has been a long slog for a player who once upon a time used to hit 25 to 30 goals per season.
Following United’s impressive 4-1 victory over Leicester City, it is unlikely – injuries permitting – that Mourinho will change his starting line up when struggling Stoke City come to Old Trafford next Sunday. Although, United host Zorya on Thursday in the Europa League and the United skipper may be used in a squad rotation.
Mourinho still believes Rooney is a big player for both club and country and that he is totally happy with life at United still:
“He’s a big player for me, a big player for United and a big player for this country. I don’t want to say anything else. He’s my man, I trust him completely and he’s as happy as I am at the moment. His United won and that’s normal, he’s happy.”
When asked post match why did he leave Rooney out of the starting line up, the Portuguese manager responded with a sarcastic tone, referencing when he indeed left other players out [Rashford]
“Because I know the rules of the game. You can only pick 11 men. If I leave out Rashford you ask me why. If I leave out Rooney you ask me why, but I cannot pick them all. I have a squad of players and I thought the best option against a quick-breaking side like Leicester was to play with two fast players out wide with Juan Mata in the middle.”
Wayne Rooney has always been a slow starter, mainly due the player needing to find a rhythm and match fitness, but this time around – with the skipper approaching his 31st birthday – it is hard to see whether or not he can bounce back and find the form of 2011/12 – quite possibly his last great season (where he hit 34 goals). We spoke earlier in the season about how Rooney will be used under Mourinho, nothing much has changed – however, he has a challenge on his hands to dislodge Juan Mata from the number ten role.