Jose Mourinho says criticism of Wayne Rooney 'was too much', but tells him to prove doubters wrong

Jose Mourinho says criticism of Wayne Rooney 'was too much', but tells him to prove doubters wrong

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has challenged Wayne Rooney to confound the naysayers after damaging, over-the-top criticism during the international break.

In the public eye since bursting onto the scene when a teenager, a lot has changed in that journey from precocious talent to record-breaking 30-year-old captain of club and country.

Despite being the subject of scrutiny for so long, Rooney's place in the both sides, never mind position, has rarely been so fiercely debated.

The United captain this week said he ignores most of the "rubbish" about him, but Mourinho thinks some of the talk has impacted his form since returning from England's unconvincing start to life under Sam Allardyce.

Jose Mourinho says criticism of Wayne Rooney 'was too much', but tells him to prove doubters wrong

Rooney failed to impress in this month's late 1-0 win against Slovakia, after which Allardyce curiously suggested that he had deferred to his skipper over where he played, even expressing surprise at how deep he dropped.

Questions over his role and capabilities have continued since returning to United, with Mourinho noticing a marked change in a player who retains his trust but is not immune to being dropped against Leicester today or further down the line.

"Honestly, I think there was a Wayne before Slovakia-England and a Wayne after Slovakia-England," the Red Devils boss said of Rooney, a player he insists has "no privilege" purely because he is captain.

"And I am not blaming Sam, 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, is the captain of England, has the record of goals, almost the record of matches.

"I think it was too much, but I still think that, a big boy like he is, he has to face it in a strong way."

Put to Mourinho that people expect Rooney to be strong enough to deal with, even driven on by it, he added: "That's what he tries every time. When he is on the pitch, he gives 100 per cent. Always, always."

Mourinho knows just as well as anyone the scrutiny that comes with being a high-profile individual in the most popular league in the world.

The attention on him ratcheted up a notch on the eve of Leicester's visit to Old Trafford after a new biography about Mourinho put his fractious relationship with Arsenal's Arsene Wenger under the spotlight.

The book details alleged conversations with a football journalist and one angry exchange surrounding Wenger reportedly ended with Mourinho saying: "I will find him one day outside a football pitch and I will break his face".

Wenger refused to respond to the alleged comment ahead of Arsenal's match with Chelsea, saying he was not in a "destructive mode, ever" and would not be reading the book.

Mourinho, too, gave the new biography short shrift when asked about it on the eve of United's match with Leicester.

"It is the same thing, I am happy," he said. He made his money, that is fine for me."

Asked if it was correct that he once said he wanted to break Wenger's face, Mourinho retorted: "No, I met Arsene Wenger a couple of weeks ago and like civilized people we shook hands, we sat on the same table.

"We have dinner together with other people, we exchanged ideas, we were speaking because we are civilized people.

"And again, I don't think the book will be in the gallery of the Shakespeares and so on and I prefer just to don't comment.

"It is my last word about it and again I repeat, he is making his money. That's fine by me."

When asked if he fell let down because the author says they were close, Mourinho added: "You can see how close he was."


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