Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has spoken about new manager Jose Mourinho stating that he has been “fantastic” in his new role, getting his plans across to the Manchester United squad as they get ready for the new season in which they have plans to return to the top of the Premier League. United recently returned from their pre-season tour of China, which was disrupted due to the second game against Manchester City being cancelled due to weather and the state of the pitch at the Birds Nest Stadium in Beijing. Rooney, speaking about training, insisted that is was ‘really good’. Rooney should feature for Manchester United in their match against Galatasaray in Sweden this evening, and will have a testimonial in his honour at Old Trafford on Wednesday, facing his former club Everton.
Rooney believes that the club’s summer signings; Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have massively improved the Manchester United squad with Paul Pogba expected to complete his deal next week, which without UEFA Champions League football shows a massive statement from the Old Trafford club. Rooney travelled on the club’s tour to China, but did not play, returned to training at the AON Training Complex in Carrington with his teammates on Thursday, some of them returning after an extended break after their participation in the European Championships this summer, in which Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal won the tournament, beating hosts France. Speaking to Sky Sports News HQ, Rooney said:
“Jose’s been fantastic. Training’s been really good and preparation has been going well; you can see why he’s been successful with the way he works and how he gets his message across. We just want to get to the games now. We’ve got one in Sweden (against Galatasaray) that I’m forward to. As always, as a footballer, it’s exciting to play under a new manager and you’re always getting those butterflies to get the new season started. The squad looks good too. The signings we’ve brought in are really good and they’ll help us to try and win the Premier League.
“They’ve got quality and experience, which is needed, so it’s an exciting time to be a United fan. When you have a tournament in the summer, the preparation is a bit disrupted for the managers, in a way. Some players come back early, some a few weeks later. The testimonial is an extra game for the manager to pick which players he wants and a few might benefit from the game, and I’m sure it’s the same for Everton. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Rooney’s testimonial against Everton at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening will honour his 12 years at Manchester United and so far his 519 appearances for the club. More importantly, it will also raise funds for the Wayne Rooney Foundation. The foundation will donate money to four charities; the NSPCC, Alder Hey Children’s Charity, Claire House Children’s Hospice and the Manchester United Foundation. Whilst Rooney was visiting children at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool, speaking about his testimonial, he said:
“Winning trophies are the biggest highlights as a player. My 12 years at United has gone quick and I’ve enjoyed it. There’s been highs and lows. Hopefully there’ll be a few more highs to come soon in the near future, and I’m grateful to United for giving me the chance to play for them for so many years, and be successful with them; it’s what we all want and want to do again soon.”
Rooney also thinks that his new manager, Mourinho has brought that sense of belief back to the Theatre of Dreams, something which over the last three years since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, had been eroded away. The 53-year-old Portuguese manager arrived at Old Trafford in May, replacing Louis van Gaal who was sacked shortly after winning the Emirates FA Cup that same month, had 17 major honours to his name, including eight league titles won in Portugal, Spain, Italy and England, plus two UEFA Champions League triumphs whilst at Porto and Inter Milan respectively. Last season, despite their FA Cup victory over Crystal Palace, which ended a twelve-year drought in the tournament, United lacked the swagger they had under Ferguson. The United of old was unrecognisable, but not beyond repair. Rooney is relishing the chance to return to the top of football once again and has been enjoying the preparations for the club’s new campaign, one which will be important. Rooney speaking on Key 103, reported by Sky Sports News HQ, said:
“It’s always great to get a new manager but when you get someone in the stature of Jose Mourinho he’s great to work under and he’s brought a winning mentality back to the club. Manchester United as a football club, we have to win and we have to deliver for him. There’s pressure on the players but we’re ready and I think this season we’ll give a real challenge on all fronts. He’s come in, he’s been great with the players. The training has been hard but enjoyable. We’re ready, we’re working hard. We know it’s a big season for us. He’s made, in my opinion, some great signings who have gelled in really well with the squad so it’s exciting times.”
Rooney has achieved a lot at Manchester United, winning nearly all he can at the club including; five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two Football League Cups, three FA Community Shields, one UEFA Champions League and one FIFA Club World Cup. The FA Cup was the only domestic trophy which eluded Rooney in his career, with the UEFA Europa League, a tournament United have played in twice so far, a third time this season, the only European trophy United have not yet won. The 30-year-old, who is currently just five goals shy of breaking the club’s goalscoring record set by Sir Bobby Charlton has plans after his playing days are over, he is currently aiming to achieve his coaching badges. Rooney said:
“I’ve started taking my coaching badges now so that will probably take about four or five years to complete. Of course I’ve got a lot of experience playing football. So I think it would be criminal if I didn’t try and pass that knowledge on so hopefully when I finish playing I can get some role as a manager or coach and try and use the experience I’ve built up over the years.”
Rooney seems to think that it could take him five years to achieve his coaching badges and he has three-years remaining on his Manchester United contract, which could mean a coaching role at the club after his career ends might be on the cards. Of course, he could leave for Everton to achieve that dream. Rooney has had a good career in football, but recently, he has not been at his best, something which could return under Mourinho, or could be lost forever. This season will be important for him, as with the signings made so far, it is not certain that Manchester United’s captain will be a preferred starter, possibly playing a bit part role this season, if all does not go well for him.