Mourinho arrived to what he called a ‘sad squad’, understandably sapped of life after a tumultuous Premier League campaign under Louis van Gaal.
Speaking with Manchester Evening News, Rooney explained how the 53-year-old has lifted the mood at Old Trafford.
“Everyone knows that if you work hard, then you will eventually have the opportunity to show your worth,” he said.
“Last year many players knew that they would be starting on the bench even days before the game.
“Some would even know that they would not be travelling with the squad. This year we are more of a group and this is our true strength.”
The sly dig at van Gaal illustrates both the sheer plight suffered under the Dutchman and the feeling of liberation now sweeping over Mourinho’s squad.
Rooney has perhaps tapped into the crucial difference between van Gaal and Mourinho: the Dutchman, obsessed with the righteousness of his system and nothing else, failed to create much of a bond with his players; on the other hand, Mourinho has placed optimum emphasis on what van Gaal ignored – piecing together a tight, well integrated group of players, all surging towards the same goal as an unshakeable collective.
This is a common feature of all Mourinho sides, and history dictates that such togetherness reaps devastating results.