Jose Mourinho has confirmed he has given captain Wayne Rooney a rest and others a chance to shine in the attacking area of the pitch.
Rooney, 30, has started each of Manchester United’s four Premier League games this season but was left out of Mourinho’s 20-man squad which traveled to Rotterdam on Wednesday ahead of United’s clash with Feyenoord in UEFA Europa League Group A.
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Speaking to the media in Holland, Mourinho have a simple explanation as to why his captain and talisman didn’t travel with the rest of the squad.
“He plays every game since the beginning of the season and also 90 minutes for England. I want him to be fresh for the next Premier League match and at the same time the attacking position he is playing in I have lots of solution and people that is working hard to have a chance.”
With Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard also left out, plus the injured duo of Phil Jones and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mourinho perhaps sent out the message that winning the Europa League, European club soccer’s second-tier continental competition, is not the aim.
That’s not the case, according to Mourinho who states that United’s aim is to win the Europa League.
“We come to respect the opponent, we come to respect the opposition and we come to win the game,” Mourinho said. “We want to win the competition. It is difficult to do it but it is easy to feel it and say. This is the way we want to approach the competition.”
Mourinho added that: “I know the Europa League is not the big dream of every big player, but you’re not in the Champions League – you have to find your motivation.”
Take from that what you will but it’s a safe bet that whatever side United puts out throughout the Europa League this season, they’ll be expected to go deep in the competition despite success in the Premier League the main aim for Mourinho in his debut season in charge at Old Trafford.