Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho spoke at length about Wayne Rooney on Friday, explaining the importance of the captain at Old Trafford.
Mourinho says that Rooney is neither a toy nor a public relations ploy for him, and that he was readying Rooney for extra time in the EFL Cup Final and just may start him on Saturday.
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Rooney is wanted at United “100 percent” for next season, but Mourinho says a return will be up to the player.
“So Wayne Rooney to Everton, I only can say that in the final with the result 2-2 with the team in difficulties, with the team possibly going to play 40 more minutes Rooney was ready to go into the pitch,” Mourinho said.
“So he’s not the player we play in the last minute or to give a gift in the winning final, you trust and are going to play your crucial change which is the last one.”
Mourinho broached the topic before being asked, which shows he understands the import of the situation.
There’s another level to this, too; With so many legendary figures leaving Old Trafford over the past several seasons, how the next big one leaves will be significant to the short-term aura of the club. Is this still the club over everything, or is United that much different with Mourinho?