How do you handle an aging star? Jose Mourinho and Man U face this dilemma with the Rooney Man. The Daily Mail- “Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has admitted captain Wayne Rooney faces a ‘very difficult’ situation as he enters the ‘last part’ of his career.
Rooney is United and England’s all-time record goal scorer. But he has been relegated to a bit-part role under their Portuguese boss, starting only 14 league games all season.
The 31-year-old is set to leave Old Trafford at the end of the season, with his boyhood club Everton, MLS and China all possible destinations. And Mourinho accepted there is no easy way to handle ageing players who are reaching the end of an illustrious playing career.
‘It’s very difficult because during my career I had this kind of situation of getting players – amazing players with amazing history – in the last period of their career,’ the Portuguese coach told Omnisport.
‘When you get players in the last part of their careers, the players with the big history in the club – and I had that everywhere, I had that in Inter, I had that at Real Madrid, I had that at Chelsea.
‘Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, to have them – and in my case I had them in the best period of their career – and then when I returned the second time, I had them in their last period of their career. How difficult it is.’
With United still fighting on two fronts, Rooney has started all of United’s last four Premier League matches as Mourinho juggles a squad stretched by injuries to the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
He scored only his eighth goal of the season in the 2-1 defeat at Tottenham last Sunday and is on course for his worst league return since moving to Old Trafford in 2004.
Despite Rooney’s playing time being limited in his first season in charge, however, Mourinho hailed the striker’s attitude and his continued commitment to the club’s cause.
‘Sometimes, the players understand the situation. Sometimes the players still feel they are 24, 25 and it’s very difficult,’ Mourinho said.
‘The good thing with Wayne is that he’s a very club man. He’s very club man. And if he is frustrated, he hides it. If he is not happy, he hides it. He behaves in the best possible way.
‘And when he’s not injured, he’s always available. And in fact now, I need him. I need him back because we have so many problems.’
With only Ajax standing in the way of United securing the Europa League title and Champions League football, Mourinho remains on course for the double in his first season at Old Trafford.
But the Portuguese boss has come under fire for his side’s league performances, with United sitting sixth and on course for their worst top-flight campaign since 1990-91.
Mourinho admitted it has taken him time to get to know the club and his squad. But the Portuguese has vowed not to make the same mistakes that have hampered his side this term again next season.
‘I try to analyse the realities before I arrived in the club, but you only know the reality when you are inside,’ he said.
‘The first season is hard. I enjoy the second because in the second I know I’m not making mistakes.
‘You think you know the players, but you don’t. You only know them when you have them in good moments and bad moments. The one I really enjoy to do is the transition from the first to the second season.’
Despite spending £455million on transfer fees in the last three years, United currently sit 24 points behind Chelsea heading into the final round of matches.
And Mourinho claims the financial clout of other clubs is the reason his club have struggled to compete in recent seasons.
‘I always had the question mark, what happened that stopped Man United being successful in the last three, four, five years?’ he said.
‘One answer: the reality of the Premier League, the economic power in many clubs. The stability that clubs manage to give.
‘There is work to be done on the Manchester squad. The good thing is the club knows, the board knows and we are together on this process.’