Jose Mourinho insists Wayne Rooney remains very much “first choice” at Manchester United – but admits his confidence has taken something of a beating in recent weeks.
After losing his starting spot for both club and country in recent weeks, there has been plenty questioning the player’s long-term future in the English game.
Our Monday Verdict last week suggested Rooney’s ongoing selection at international level was becoming a ‘farce’, while the fact he has lost his place with United has bookmakers to cut the odds on him leaving Old Trafford before the start of next season.
However, despite admitting his ego had been bruised by recent events, Mourinho – who on Sunday insisted Rooney would always get the respect he deserves at Manchester United – insists the player remains very much part of his first-team plans.
“I think what you could hurt you did already,” Mourinho told reporters. “I don’t think you can do more than what you did.
“So I think in this moment it’s time for him to recover from what was done to him and the best place for him to do that is feeling like he feels at home here.”
“You can hurt me but you can’t put me down. I think he’s the same.”
Mourinho defends Rooney axe
“That’s my job,” he added. “That’s a choice. He didn’t lose his place. Not at all. For me, he’s first choice. I have 24 players.
“The records are not important for me. A match is an isolated event. There’s no relation to what you did in the past, no relation to what you do in the future.
“That’s why I don’t like much the statistics of previous matches and previous results and this kind of thing.”