Monday 22 January 2018

Derby day ideal start for Rooney

Simon Stone

Wayne Rooney reckons there could be no better incentive for Manchester United to open the new season with a win than facing Manchester City in Sunday's Community Shield.

The Wembley clash gives a spicier-than-normal edge to United's final pre-season encounter.

It also provides the opportunity to avenge last season's FA Cup semi-final defeat by Roberto Mancini's men, which opened up the path towards an end to the Blues' 35-year trophy drought.

Not surprisingly, with the Premier League title to defend, Rooney is anxious not to give City any hope of an improvement on their own third placed finish last term.

"You couldn't get better motivation to start the season with a bang," Rooney said. "I hadn't even thought about it until I turned on the TV and someone was talking about potentially the best Community Shield ever.

"Playing City is the best way to start."

Although the FA Cup semi-final was a disappointing day for United, the Red Devils will never forget Rooney's sensational winner in the Old Trafford league meeting between the two sides a couple of months earlier.

It went a long way towards United's record 19th league championship, although Rooney acknowledges it will be even harder to retain the crown, considering the number of challengers jostling for position.

"The names are obvious," he said. "When you are at a club like Manchester United, you pretty much know what the goals are. We want to win the league, the Champions League and both cups.

"It is pretty simple. Obviously, you fall short sometimes, but at Manchester United, you have to keep striving for it."

Meanwhile, Rooney's new team-mate Phil Jones has said that he is enjoying "riding the rollercoaster" but he realises there is little chance of him playing every week at United like he did at Blackburn.

Amazingly, less than two years after making his debut for Rovers, the 19-year-old cost United around £17m. Now he could be in line to pick up his first senior medal in Sunday's encounter.

"It has all happened so quickly," he said. "I am just riding the rollercoaster at the minute. I did play every week at Blackburn and want to do the same at United. But I am a realistic person and I know that is not going to happen with the quality of player we have here."

There is also a decent chance Jones will play some part in Paul Scholes' testimonial match at Old Trafford today.


It would be his first appearance at the stadium since he was part of the Blackburn team thumped 7-1 by a rampant United outfit last term.

Jones occupied the holding midfield role that day, his ability to fill that slot part of the reason Alex Ferguson bought him.

"When the manager asked me to move into midfield at Blackburn it was strange. I didn't expect it," he said.

"It took a few games to adapt to that role and the positions I should take. But if I was asked to do that here, I would feel comfortable with it."

Jones was taken aback at the reception United received in the United States, although the warmth of that welcome will be nothing compared to that reserved for Scholes and Eric Cantona, who returns to manage the New York Cosmos side which will provide today's opposition.

Cantona's return has guaranteed to take the spotlight off Scholes, a situation that suits the midfielder just fine.

Once today's celebrations are out of the way, Scholes will sit down with Ferguson to discuss the minor details of a coaching role that has been offered in abstract.

In a sense, Scholes is an unlikely coach. However, if he is able to transfer his unquestioned ability as a footballer onto the training ground, the 36-year-old would be an invaluable asset.

And it is something that has become an interesting option for a player who made his last competitive appearance for United in last season's Champions League final loss to Barcelona.

"A couple of years ago I felt like my career was never going to end, so you don't think about what to do in the future in the same way as I have done over the past six months," said Scholes.

"Football is the only thing I know a little bit about so I am going to give the coaching a go."

Irish Independent

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