We’ve all seen the images of Wayne Rooney looking like he’s had more than few shandies and sat posing for pictures with fans. There’s every chance Jose Mourinho has too. In fact he’d need to have been in a coma not to have seen the images that adorned many of the tabloid papers. Anyone doing a spot of online betting this weekend would probably wager the skipper won’t be starting against Arsenal.
The Mail notes: Rooney might point out that he at least chose to stay at The Grove in Watford when it seems some of his team-mates spent the night in central London. He might also highlight the fact that he was joined in the bar, clearly worse for wear judging by wine stains around his lips, by members of Gareth Southgate’s staff.
But he is supposed to be the leader of this young squad, not just setting an example but sprinkling the ‘gold dust’ Southgate was speaking of only last month. On Wednesday he was forced to apologise to Southgate and reiterate his regret to Dan Ashworth after receiving a dressing down from the FA’s technical director.
Rooney’s actions while on England duty may normally have been ignored by Louis van Gaal and maybe even David Moyes, but Jose Mourinho seems to be cut from the same cloth as Sir Alex Ferguson when it comes to ruling with the iron fist.
The United manager recently came under criticism from the Professional Footballer’s Association for remarks he made about Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling declaring themselves unfit for the game against Swansea.
Mourinho told MUTV:
“Smalling doesn’t feel that he can play 100% with his pain, Luke Shaw told me this morning that he was not in the condition to play, so we had to build a defensive line,”
“Daley Blind has some problems but he put himself available to be on the bench and to try to help the team, so the people that are here are people that I trust for a difficult match.”
“What I mean is that we have players with problems, but we also have players on the pitch who have problems,” he said.
“I have friends from other sports, playing at the highest level. How many times do they play when they are not 100 per cent?
“I have a friend who is a big tennis player and he tells me that he remembers more times when he has played with pain than the times he has played without any pain.
“To compete, you have to work to the limits. It is a cultural thing, for some. But that’s not my culture.”
With the manager flexing his muscles and his captain recently being forced to apologise for being pictured drunk on a night out while on England duty, it seems there may be more trouble ahead for the United dressing room.
Mourinho has two choices, he can either publicly criticise Rooney, drop him and make an example or simply ignore what is by rights an England issue and avoid another public confrontation with one of his players. Let’s hope for United’s sake, he chooses the latter.