José Mourinho’s assessment of captain Wayne Rooney’s form may be very different in private to how it is in public, according to reports on Monday.
The 30-year-old was finally taken out of the starting lineup for Saturday’s demolition of Leicester City, and while Rooney will be happy that his side got the win, on a personal level he can’t have been thrilled that the team looked fantastic in his absence as they cruised to a 4-1 victory.
While Mourinho has been quick to leap to the England international’s defence in public, he has apparently been a bit more scathing in private.
A report by the Sun’s Neil Custis this morning (so make of this what you will, but the Mirror are at least semi-running with it) claims that Mourinho has warned Rooney to stop criticising his teammates, especially as his own form has been nothing to write home about.
The frank exchange of words is said to have come in training on the Monday after the 2-1 derby defeat to Man City earlier this month, wherein Rooney tore into the other players at half time for their abject performances.
Mourinho apparently told his captain that he can’t point the finger at other players until he sorts his own form out, and this was before the horror shows against Watford and Northampton.
Juan Mata looked sensational in the number ten role that Rooney has tried to play in earlier this season, while the fact that three of Manchester United’s four goals came from corners – which Rooney would have taken had he been on the pitch – cannot have been lost on the supporters or Mourinho, or indeed, on the benched player himself.
He will probably play in the Europa League against Zorya on Thursday, but whether or not he returns to the starting lineup against Stoke next weekend remains to be seen. If he does come back into the team, it won’t be a popular choice by the manager.
(Also, the irony of José Mourinho chastising someone for throwing players under the bus should be lost on absolutely nobody.)