Wayne Rooney has insisted that he has a lot of football left in him and though 31 next week believes he is capable of delivering for Manchester United in every game, despite being reduced to a regular substitute’s role by manager Jose Mourinho.
Rooney’s willingness to stop to discuss his marginalisation at Old Trafford – a state of affairs that would leave the majority of Premier League footballers unwilling to speak in a player/media mixed zone – illustrates the maturity which England and United managers repeatedly speak of. He was phlegmatic about being substitute in five of his last six games for United and England.
“I like to think I can play every game, but obviously it's the manger’s decision and I respect that,” Rooney said. “I will be ready when I’m needed. I’m 31 next week, I’ve got a lot of football left.”
He did not deny that he was frustrated by watching from the sidelines. “Yeah of course you want to play – I have to try and do my job for the team and wait for my chance,” he said. Rooney may get his first start for United since last month’s EFL Cup win at Northampton when Europa League opponents Fenerbahce arrive at Old Trafford on Thursday night. “I don't know, I’m sure the manager will have looked at tonight, and I’m sure he’ll have an idea,” he said to that.
Despite the defensive nature of the performance in the goalless draw at Anfield, Rooney said United felt they could win the Premier League under Mourinho. “Yeah, I do,” he said. “I think we’ll be challenging this season. We’ve still got that belief and it is even stronger after working with this manager, and the players over the last few months, I think we’ve got a fantastic squad that is ready and capable of challenging.”
Liverpool vs Manchester United player ratings
Liverpool vs Manchester United player ratings
1/22 Loris Karius – 4 out of 10
Didn’t have too much to do but looked nervous when the crosses did come in and his loose pass nearly gave United the lead.
2/22 Nathaniel Clyne – 5 out of 10
Couldn’t attack anywhere near as much as he normally likes to and was restricted in what he could contribute.
3/22 Joel Matip – 7 out of 10
Had a good battle with Ibrahimovic throughout and probably got the better of the big Swede.
4/22 Dejan Lovren – 7 out of 10
Like Matip, did well to keep Ibrahimovic quiet and read the play well.
5/22 James Milner – 7 out of 10
Could have had a tough night against Rashford but continued his impressive run at left back.
6/22 Jordan Henderson – 5 out of 10
Struggled to get his foot on the ball as he lost the midfield battle to United’s pairing.
7/22 Emre Can – 5 out of 10
Much of the play passed him by as it seems he is still lacking match fitness on his first Premier League start of the season.
8/22 Sadio Mane – 6 out of 10
Continued to drop deep in hope of making something happen and was probably the liveliest of Liverpool’s attacking players.
9/22 Philippe Coutinho – 5 out of 10Philippe Coutinho – 5 out of 10
Looked out of sorts and made uncharacteristic errors with his forward passing and crossing.
10/22 Roberto Firmino – 5 out of 10
Similar to Coutinho, he also struggled to find any space between the lines to work in.
11/22 Daniel Sturridge – 4 out of 10
Anonymous in the first half and replaced before the hour mark by Lallana. He has now gone 615 minutes without a Premier League goal.
12/22 David De Gea – 8 out of 10
Didn’t put a foot wrong and was needed to pull off two world-class saves from Can and Coutinho.
13/22 Antonio Valencia – 8 out of 10
Continued his fine start to the season and saved the game for United with a stunning last-ditch challenge.
14/22 Chris Smalling – 6 out of 10
Did well to keep Coutinho and co. out but United’s captain for the night was overshadowed by his new centre-back partner.
15/22 Eric Bailly – 7 out of 10
A strong and commanding performance by Bailly as he kept Liverpool’s attacking quartet quiet.
16/22 Daley Blind – 5 out of 10
Could have been found out with his lack of pace but held his own against the Reds’ pacey attacks.
17/22 Marouane Fellaini – 7 out of 10
Helped control the game from midfield and broke up play well alongside Herrera.
18/22 Ander Herrera – 8 out of 10
Was the best outfield player of the game. He was dynamic and won possession well on multiple occasions.
19/22 Paul Pogba – 5 out of 10
Played in a more advanced role but other than a few neat passes he looked frustrated as he struggled to make anything happen.
20/22 Marcus Rashford – 5 out of 10
Didn’t get past Milner as much as he’d have liked but the one time he did he fired in a dangerous cross that Liverpool struggled to deal with.
21/22 Ashley Young – 6 out of 10
Did exactly what he was put into the team for. Crossed well and worked back industriously to keep Clyne quiet.
22/22 Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 4 out of 10
Cut a frustrated figure up front as he struggled to link with his midfielders amid the pressure from Matip and Lovren.
His 15-minute role at Anfield was not without its problems. Replacing Marcus Rashford on the United flank, Rooney found himself operating as a utility right-back and on two occasions Liverpool’s James Milner got in behind him. Debate now rages about exactly how defensive United were at Liverpool. Opta statistics, quoted by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, suggested a mere 35 per cent ball possession – the lowest by a United team in the Premier League era – but Mourinho insisted it was 42 per cent.
Rooney said that Mourinho has brought a “different” way of playing. “Yeah, it’s what the manager’s wanting from us, and that is going to take time as well,” he said. “I’m sure over the next few weeks or couple of months we will have our way of playing, and it will be his way of playing.”
He admitted that it was taking time to adjust from the method that Louis van Gaal had insisted upon. “Probably the game being on Monday night has helped us. We've come back from the international break, and had a bit longer to work on the team. That has helped us in the end. It is a different way of playing, but if you’re an individual you should learn what the manager wants. As a team it’s going to take a little bit longer. We knew it was going to take a bit of time.”Reuse content