Wednesday 18 October 2017

Rooney: I knew my United career was over in November

Wayne Rooney is given his shirt by Everton boss Ronald Koeman. Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images
Wayne Rooney is given his shirt by Everton boss Ronald Koeman. Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images

Chris Bascombe

Wayne Rooney felt he did not deserve to lift Manchester United's two trophies last season as he knew his Old Trafford career was over nine months before his move to Everton.

United's record goalscorer and former captain said farewell to Jose Mourinho with the League Cup and Europa League added to his illustrious CV, but last year was a challenging one.

As he completed the formalities of his emotional return to Goodison Park, Rooney said he had to leave United to secure regular football and reignite his World Cup ambitions.

"It was just a frustrating time," said Rooney. "The hardest thing was lifting the two trophies - the League Cup and the Europa League. You don't feel like you (deserve it) because you haven't been part of the game. That was hard to do; you're naturally happy because you have won but you don't celebrate it as much.

"It is just frustrating if you are not playing. The lads who play were having two-day recovery sessions while all the lads who were on the bench and not in the squad were training together, so you're not really training with the first team."

The 31-year-old acknowledged it was a long goodbye to Old Trafford.

"It was around November I knew (I'd be leaving)," he said. "I spoke to Jose in January to see what his opinions were and he always said he wanted me to stay and help the team until the end of the season. I did that. I helped in the games he put me in but I knew I had to leave to move forward for my career. It was a sad moment because I had been at the club for 13 years but I had to think of my career as well.

"I started the season doing OK. I had a bad game at Watford away and that was it. He started with me as a No 10 with Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) up front but then he changed the system a little and the lads who came in did well.

"He stuck with that. That's his decision and I respect him as a person, as a manager."

Rooney received hugely lucrative offers from China and the United States, but he was determined to return to Everton.

"There was more money out there if you had searched long enough for it but it's a decision based on wanting to play football - and to go somewhere which is showing ambition," he said.

Pressure

"I know there will be more pressure coming back to Everton than going to any other club but I'm ready for the challenge to make us better than we have been."

Rooney is aware some feel his best days are behind him, but he argued he has not joined a "retirement home" and vowed to prove himself again.

"Coming back here is the right place for me, I know I have to go and prove myself. It will be a big challenge for me and a lot of pressure but I've had that my whole career," he said.

Rooney has not given up on playing at next year's World Cup and believes a return to form will attract the attention of Gareth Southgate, the England manager.

"I hope so. I love playing for England," he said. "Of course Gareth had to make a decision - as Jose did - but I spoke to him. I wasn't playing the football that I like and I don't think you should play for your country if you are not playing for your club so I understood his decision fully. He told me that if I get back playing every week then the door is still open to get back into the squad." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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