Wayne Rooney is a little bit excited about the Jose Mourinho era at Manchester United.
Rooney, 30, scored twice in United’s 5-2 friendly win against Galatasaray in Sweden on Saturday and with new signings settling in and Paul Pogba reportedly on his way, optimism levels at Old Trafford are rising ahead of the 2016-17 Premier League campaign.
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This week is a big one for Rooney as Old Trafford hosts his testimonial on Wednesday against his former club Everton.
United’s captain will then lead his team out at Wembley Stadium as they face reigning Premier League champions Leicester City in the Community Shield, the traditional curtain-raiser of English soccer’s domestic season, this Sunday.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Rooney believes this particular season promises plenty.
“We’re in a very good spot now, we think we can challenge for the Premier League,” Rooney said. “I think the players feel this is more like the old Manchester United.”
Rooney — who Mourinho claims will play up front instead of in midfield like he did in the latter stages of last season and during EURO 2016 — went on to reveal the kind of mentality Mourinho has brought with him through the door.
“The way he speaks to individuals, the way he talks to the group, the way he makes players feel so confident. I’ve heard him talk to players, and you know that player will now be feeling on top of the world,” Rooney said. “He’s done it with me, he’s done it with all of us — that is one of his qualities. You know he will leave messages for you with the press — messages for other managers — he’s very clever with his words.”
The Mourinho factor has taken a while to kick in but these kind of quotes from senior figures of United’s squad explain why United were so keen to get rid of Louis Van Gaal and replace him with “The Special One” as soon as they could.
Mourinho, 53, is a born winner and multiple reports claim he’s already forced plenty of international players to train with the reserves ahead of a massive cull of players in the next months.
Without a PL title since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, United have spent big with David Moyes and LVG in charge but all they have to show for it are seventh, fourth and fifth place finishes in the PL plus an FA Cup trophy last season. Mourinho will be aiming to make the Red Devils competitive at the top of the table next season and he’s already said “he wants it all” and isn’t shying away from that.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, soon Pogba, and the likes of Henrik Mkhitaryan point to a new brash era beginning for England’s most successful ever club on the domestic scene with 20 league titles.
He’s ruthless but as Rooney’s comments suggest, Mourinho is willing to do whatever it takes to make United successful again.