The Portuguese coach is under significant pressure after overseeing a horror start to the season for the Reds.
Not only have results been poor but the mood around the club has been wholly negative and Mourinho’s relationships with stars like Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez, as well as Marcus Rashford, have been publicly noted as frosty.
Rooney left Man United at the end of Mourinho’s first season in charge, having lifted the UEFA Europa League and EFL Cup as captain. After a season at Everton, the United legend left to MLS in the USA with DC United, where he has excelled.
“It has been a tough situation,” Rooney conceded to the Telegraph.
“The players, the manager, it has been a tough start to the season. I know Jose is getting a load of stick but I said a few weeks ago, the players have to stand up. They have to be counted and they have to be better.”
Rooney was captain under Louis van Gaal, another manager who struggled at Old Trafford as one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s successors. He insists that the players will be at least partially responsible for United’s failings this season, which have been mainly blamed upon Mourinho.
“The manager can do so much but then it is down to the players on the pitch to produce and probably collectively,” Rooney said.
“It [the poor run of form] is a bit of everything coming together but Jose is an easy target. Some of the players have to be better.”
“I said the same thing when Louis van Gaal was there. He took a lot of stick but behind closed doors I said to the players, ‘We have to be doing better’. Personally I think he set us up brilliantly but we didn’t produce on the pitch.”
It’s an interesting final quote from Rooney on van Gaal’s set up. The Dutchman tried to instil a different kind of football at United that was heavily focused on possession. Had it come off like it did for van Gaal at other clubs, such as Ajax, then it could have been beautiful.
To hear Rooney accept that the players underperformed is interesting. However, it is the manager’s job to motivate.