Mourinho pins blame on FA over Rooney incident
United boss insists captain 'fit and ready to play' after drinking row
Jose Mourinho has accused the English Football Association of failing to provide adequate protection for Wayne Rooney on England duty as the Manchester United manager expressed concern that his embattled captain has been left in a "fragile" state by this latest storm.
Rooney issued a public apology this week after being rebuked by the FA for apparently getting drunk in the team hotel 24 hours after England's 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Scotland eight days ago.
Gareth Southgate had seen Rooney and members of England's staff drinking at The Grove hotel in Hertfordshire but the caretaker manager - who will be formally interviewed for the job by the FA on Monday - did not intervene because he was under the impression they were heading to bed.
Southgate is understood to be extremely disappointed - and feels let down - that Rooney stayed up but it is yet to be determined whether the incident will affect his role as captain or his involvement in future squads.
Mourinho refused to criticise Southgate directly but claimed more efforts should have been made by the FA to prevent the situation, following the publication of pictures of Rooney looking worse for wear after allegedly gatecrashing a wedding at the hotel and drinking into the early hours.
"The player goes to the national team, he belongs to the national team and when, as I learnt since I was a kid, if someone lends me something I have to take even better care [of it] than if it was mine," the United manager said.
"Since school, you know. Your friend lends you a pencil, you have to take care of the pencil better than if it was your pencil.
"So I think when one day if I become a national team manager, I will try - try, and I am not saying that I will be successful on that and I am not being critical with Gary [sic] or anyone, and I get the occasion to wish Gary the best of luck - but I think you have to build something to protect what is not yours, what someone lends you."
Mourinho also believes Rooney's behaviour has been singled out, even though there were England team-mates out in nightclubs in London at the same time.
The discipline of the squad will form a key part of a scheduled debrief Southgate will undertake with the FA on Wednesday, with all players and staff expected to be reminded of their responsibilities.
But asked if Rooney should not have put himself in such a scenario, Mourinho added: "If you go one by one, to see where the 23 [England] players were, some of them were in worse places than the hotel bar."
He had claimed in September that Rooney had been crushed by the criticism he received in the wake of England's unconvincing 1-0 win over Slovakia and is worried that the player could be hampered in a similar way, despite insisting he was eager to start against Arsenal at Old Trafford this lunchtime.
"I am not saying he is affected," he said.
"I am saying that even if you have or if you build a kind of wall around you to try to feel protected from what people write about you or think about you, the comments people make about you, even if you tried to build that wall, the wall has always points of fragility. It has always some little holes. We are flesh and blood so I think it has an effect."
Rooney missed England's friendly against Spain on Tuesday with a swollen knee caused when he tripped over a bottle containing an energy drink after the Scotland game but Mourinho said he was fit and available to face Arsenal.
"Over the last two or three days nothing happened, he trained, like everybody else, he wants to play, like everybody else, he's ready," Mourinho said.
Meanwhile, Mourinho refused to discuss another sensitive subject after reacting angrily to media coverage around Chris Smalling's absence from the 3-1 win at Swansea City the Sunday before last.
Mourinho appeared to question the bravery of Smalling and fellow United defender Luke Shaw after claiming they were unwilling to play through the pain barrier.
Reports subsequently emerged that Smalling had broken his toe in two places and would be out for four to six weeks, which United denied.
"Chris Smalling, you cannot ask about because you have your sources, you trust your sources, you write what your sources tell you and you did that for 15 days, so now you're not going to ask me to comment on your sources' information," he said. "I don't say a word about Smalling."
He was more forthcoming about Shaw, whom he insisted retained his trust despite his recent public criticisms of the England left-back.
"He is ready to play, I don't have any problem with him," Mourinho said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)