Happy Jose praises Rooney for handling of China speculation

Date published: Friday 24th February 2017 7:26

Jose Mourinho was pleased to see Wayne Rooney end speculation about his immediate future by pledging himself to Manchester United until at least the summer.

Talk had been growing over the 31-year-old soon making an Old Trafford exit, with his agent Paul Stretford understood to have been in China this week speaking to interested clubs.

However, Rooney committed his future to United in a statement released to Press Association Sport on Thursday evening, saying he wanted to remain at the club during this “exciting time”.

Questions remain over the skipper’s long-term future but his statement pleased Mourinho, who confirmed the England captain will be in the squad to face Southampton in the EFL Cup final after a hamstring complaint.

“I think he did in the right moment – in the best moment – his declaration, his statement,” the United boss said, having on Tuesday cast doubt over Rooney’s future.

“I told you I think in the last press conference that the questions you were asking me were questions for him – only he could answer the questions.

“He did it in exactly the right moment because I think your question is the last question about Wayne Rooney, and I think it should be the last until the end of the season.

“He says no way he moves, he stays, he wants to help the team to fight for the trophies. I told you already that I would be happy if that is the decision.

“So, yes, he is fine, he is training with the team. He was not selected for St Etienne because he was not ready to play, but he was ready to have one more important training session.

“And no doubt he is involved for the game.”

There remains doubts over Phil Jones’ fitness following a foot complaint, but Michael Carrick is available for the Wembley clash after sustaining a calf issue in Wednesday’s 1-0 Europa League last-32 second leg victory at St Etienne.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the winner in France but will now miss the EFL Cup final after going off with a hamstring injury midway through the first half.

“Michael (is) available,” Mourinho said. “Clever, experienced, he left the pitch in the right moment so Michael is available.

“Mkhitaryan is out and Jones, let’s see and decide tomorrow.”

United are favourites against Southampton – just as they were 41 years ago when Saints emerged victorious in the FA Cup final, the only major trophy in their history.

Mourinho is looking to win his first major competition at the Old Trafford helm, having already triumphed in the Community Shield.

Put to him he would become United’s first manager to win a trophy in their first season if they won on Sunday, he responded: “First of all, you are right with ‘if’, ‘if’ and ‘if’ is a big thing in football.

“But I think it is more important the club than myself and I have so many good things in my career that I wouldn’t be influenced by a little detail.

“The important thing is the club and obviously the club won a trophy last season. Let’s try to win another one this season.

“Plus the quality and dimension of our football is very important and I realised that by the fans’ reaction, their happiness is very important, their empathy with the way the team plays.

“So it will be good for the group, it will be good for the club. It will also be good for me, obviously.

“At the beginning of my career I was looking more towards myself and towards my personal achievements, if you can say that.

“I am in a period when I am more and more and more a club man.”

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