Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp believes that Wayne Rooney has to step up his efforts at Manchester United this season.
The 31-year-old made his first Premier League start since December during Man United’s 1-1 draw with AFC Bournemouth last weekend.
It has been heavily reported in recent weeks that Rooney, now a sporadic presence in the starting XI, was considering a move away from Old Trafford this season, with Everton and various Chinese clubs expressing keen interest in securing the Englishman’s signature.
And Redknapp, speaking ahead of Man United’s FA Cup quarter final clash with Chelsea, has called on the captain to step up in the next few weeks.
“Make no mistake, Jose will be desperate to go back there and win after being embarrassed 4-0 in the Premier League,” he said.
“Some of the Chelsea boys who fell out with him last year will be keen to do him over again and Jose has said enough about his former club in recent weeks to suggest he would love to stop them doing the double in Conte’s first season.
“United losing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to suspension is a huge blow. If the referee had done his job and sent Tyrone Mings off for that horrendous stamp, the Ibrahimovic retaliation would never have happened.
“He’s been so important to United this season but it is moments like this that you have a big squad for and Wayne Rooney has to come back into the picture.
“It looks like Rooney will go this summer but after a difficult period he’ll want to prove he can still cut it at the highest level.
“And what better way to work yourself back into Jose’s good books by scoring to give him a win at the ground he wants more than any other.”
Rooney has not just developed as a footballer since arriving in 2004; he has, above anything, developed as an individual. That pugnacious, perennially explosive demeanour has been replaced by a more refined, less emotional figure. The boy from Croxteth who just wanted to play football has evolved into the leader of his club and country. And United fans have witnessed every minute of it.
Under the mature surface, however, lies the same level of desire and spirit to perform, to produce big moments, and it will not be easy for Rooney to face the fact that, actually, he won’t receive many chances to ‘step up’ this season.