Jose Mourinho has called upon Wayne Rooney to end the saga over his future by saying publicly that he either wants to stay at Manchester United or leave for Chelsea.
In what looked like the last roll of the dice for Mourinho in his bid to sign the player, the Chelsea manager was at his most open yet on Rooney in his post-match press conference following the 0-0 draw between the two clubs at Old Trafford. Asked whether he wanted Rooney to make a public statement clarifying his intentions, Mourinho replied: “Yes, I would like.”
Mourinho said that Chelsea, who have made two bids for Rooney, both rejected by United, would give “24, 48 hours” for him to make up his mind. The club are in talks over signing Samuel Eto’o, who played for Mourinho at Inter, in a separate deal from the one that brought Willian from Anzhi Makhachkala.
Mourinho said: "I think the person that started the story has to finish the story. A club like us, a manager like me, the people that work in the club with me ... we are not silly to try to get a player from a big club, a big club that doesn’t sell what they don’t want to sell. We are not silly to try something if somebody didn’t start [it].”
Pushed hard on how he knew that Rooney wanted to join Chelsea, Mourinho realised he had to be careful not to suggest that he had made an illegal approach by contacting the player directly. Asked three times how he knew Rooney’s intentions, Mourinho finally answered. “He told somebody who is very important in his career.” He did not clarify whether that was Rooney’s agent, Paul Stretford.
Avoiding the question earlier, Mourinho said: “Do you want me to tell you what for me is the most important thing? It is that he played very well [against Chelsea]. He was a real professional, playing for his club, playing for the club that pays him. He tried to win, Tried to score. He was fantastic.
“After that he wants to leave? He has to say. Or he decided now he doesn’t want to leave any more. His problem. But I praise him because he was fantastic, he played a fantastic match in difficult circumstances. He played fantastic.”
Asked whether it was Eto’o whom Chelsea hoped to sign, Mourinho said: “We don’t like to speak about players, it’s dangerous.”
Praising the response of the United supporters, who sang Rooney’s name during the evening, Mourinho said: “It was fantastic. In other countries it wouldn’t be possible, probably in other clubs it wouldn’t be possible. In a Portuguese team, an Italian team, when people know you want to leave it doesn’t matter what kind of player you are, they don’t want you. And they gave him fantastic support. It was good it was nice, it was very English. Your customs.”
Mourinho said that there was no possibility of Juan Mata, who was an unused substitute against United, leaving in this transfer window. He said: “He [Mata] is very important for me and Chelsea. The stories that are coming out [about him leaving] are nonsense stories. He goes nowhere and he is very important for me.
“He had a very small pre-season after the Confederations Cup. During that ore-season he was injured. He started training two days before we played the first Premier League match. He played against Aston Villa and [against United] I decided to put him on the bench.
“I played with De Bruyne on the right to have complete control of Evra defensively. When Juan plays on the right he comes more inside. I don’t say he has more tactical discipline but he [De Bruyne] is more adapted to that situation. I wanted Oscar to play behind the striker so I decided not to play Juan.
“I put him in [on bench] for a situation where it was ‘Can we win?’. ‘Am I going to make another offensive change or no?’ In the 75th minute I was feeling, it was difficult to win. I didn’t want to lose so I made the changes just to control the last few minutes. No chance that Juan goes.”