José Mourinho has claimed it was an easy decision to let Wayne Rooney leave Manchester United to return to boyhood club Everton over the summer.
Rooney broke Man United’s goalscoring record, previously held by Sir Bobby Charlton, under Mourinho’s management, in January 2017. He was the club captain since 2014, and had won every trophy in club football at Old Trafford.
However, Mourinho said he couldn’t stand in the way of England’s record goalscorer when he wanted to leave.
“I think it is easy,” he said. “That way [him asking to leave] it is easy because you don’t have to think a lot.”
“You just have to respect the player’s desire, and what they decide. And when they’re a legend they deserve that freedom of choice,”
Rooney is set to return to Old Trafford on Sunday as United host Everton.
The whole situation could have proven to be a bitter affair, and likely would have done in the days of Sir Alex Ferguson’s management, you’d feel, where many legends left under a cloud.
However, Mourinho and Rooney both handled the realities of his United career coming to an end perfectly.
With Rooney playing significantly less last season, it was clear that Mourinho no longer considered his captain one of the team’s most important players on the pitch, although there’s no doubt that Rooney’s off-the-pitch qualities are missed.
That the 31-year-old wanted, and asked, to rejoin Everton must have been a relief for Mourinho, who avoided a potentially bitter break-up between his captain and United.
Rooney returns to Old Trafford as a club great and will likely receive a very good reception on Sunday afternoon.