Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has become one of the many scapegoats for some of the under par performances we have seen from the Old Trafford club this term.
While the striker himself is quick to dismiss the level of criticism aimed against him, his manager can see the effect it is having on his skipper.
Quoted by the BBC ahead of the Red Devils’ clash with Leicester City on Saturday afternoon, Mourinho admitted negative comments of late have been getting to England’s record goalscorer.
“I think there was a Wayne before the Slovakia-England and a Wayne after the Slovakia-England.
“I am not blaming Sam [Allardyce, England manager], not at all.
“I am blaming the people that after England-Slovakia were, in my opinion, too strong with somebody that is a very important player in the history of English football.
“I think it was too much but I still think, a big boy like he is, he has to face it in a strong way.”
Rooney has for the last number of years been on the receiving end of negative commentary about his game. While some of this may come down to the spotlight he is in as captain of club and country as well as the fact that United have been on a downward spiral ever since Alex Ferguson vacated the managerial hot seat, few would deny that the 30-year-old is far from the player he used to be.
Even though Mourinho has thus far defended his captain to the hilt, it is apparent that the Champions League-winning boss is still as cut-throat as ever when discussing the possibility of the Liverpool native being dropped.
“[In] football everyone is the same and if he has to go on the bench, he goes on the bench. If he has to stay at home, he stays at home.
“But that doesn’t mean that you don’t trust him or you have a problem. Not at all.
“We have no problems. He is our captain but, of course, no privilege – he is like anyone else.”
With the pressure ramping up for both Mourinho and Rooney with each passing poor performance, it will be interesting to see if the United boss is in fact forced into leaving the ex-Everton man ‘at home’ at some point this campaign.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena