Wayne Rooney may have only had one training session with Jose Mourinho but has seen enough to predict a “big season” under the new Manchester United manager.
A lot has changed at Old Trafford over the summer, with the outspoken Portuguese charged with restoring the club to glory after divisive manager Louis van Gaal’s two-year reign was brought to an end.
It led to renewed hope that only increased with the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly, while a world-record move for Juventus’ Paul Pogba remained on the cards as United arrived in China for a short pre-season tour.
Such summer activity makes Rooney confident that the frustrating post-Sir Alex Ferguson era will be soon coming to an end.
“I am excited for it,” the United captain said of the campaign ahead, shortly after landing in Shanghai. “I think it’s going to be a big season for us.
“I think the appointment of Jose Mourinho is a fantastic appointment. We are all as a group of players excited by it and I think the signings that we have made have been fantastic.
“Hopefully we can have a good start to the season and be successful at the end of it.”
United get their campaign under way at Bournemouth on August 14, by which point Rooney’s role within Mourinho’s new-look team should have become clearer.
How best to utilise the 30-year-old is a question made all the more intriguing by the United boss saying he has no intention of playing the skipper in a deeper midfield role like predecessor Van Gaal or former England manager Roy Hodgson.
The summer acquisitions of Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan have increased the competition for places in attack and Rooney knows how many eyes will be on him.
“I think you always feel pressure when you play for Manchester United,” the captain said.
“It’s one of, if not the, biggest football club in the world and it is a pleasure to have played for them for them for so long.
“Always you feel like you’ve got to prove yourself each season an it’s a joy to play for them, so of course there’s pressure, there’s pressure to be successful.”
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) July 20, 2016
Rooney’s first media appearance since England’s embarrassing Euro 2016 exit to Iceland came during a peculiar and wide-ranging press conference with United’s global partner Gulf Oil International.
It was taken in good humour, though, as was a question about how the captain was finding it working under former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan boss Mourinho.
“Well, I’ve only had one day before we come out,” he said with a smile. “But it was a very good day, a good training session.
“But I think you have to look at the teams he has been at before and the success he has brought to them teams, which we’re hoping and we believe that he can bring that success to us.”