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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Wayne Rooney Q&A: Winning the Europa League, Jose Mourinho and his Manchester United future

Following his club’s success in lifting the Europa League in Stockholm, Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney spoke at length to a handful of journalists after the game in the Friends Arena about the night, Jose Mourinho and his own future.
Wayne Rooney parades the Europa League trophy around the Friends Arena after Manchester United’s final victory over Ajax on Wednesday. Lee Smith / Reuters
Wayne Rooney parades the Europa League trophy around the Friends Arena after Manchester United’s final victory over Ajax on Wednesday. Lee Smith / Reuters

Following his club’s success in lifting the Europa League in Stockholm, Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney spoke at length to a handful of journalists after the game in the Friends Arena about the night, Jose Mourinho and his own future.

How important is it to qualify for the Uefa Champions League?

I think we all know how important it is for this club to be in the Champions League, so it’s a big win for us today, on both arguments. You can say it’s a trophy but also it’s a Champions League spot.

Important for the city?

Yeah, it was very important. I have to pass my condolences to the families, the victims. It was such a sad day yesterday, and we all felt it as a team, as a city, and I think as a country, it was a sad moment, so to try and ... obviously football doesn’t bring back the lives that are lost, but to try and hopefully give some happiness to the city was vital for us.

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Do the city and country come together in tragic circumstances?

Yes, we have to. I think it’s sad, it seems to be happening more and more. Listen, I don’t want to get into too much about it but it’s something that I’m sure the right people will be looking at and trying to take the right actions.

Where does this medal rank, given the difficulties of the last few years?

It’s great to win trophies. It’s what you play football for, to win trophies. I think, to answer your question before, it’s right to say we want to qualify for the Champions League, but you know, you want to go try and win that trophy.

So it’s better than doing it via the league?

Yeah, of course. Look at Tottenham, they have had a fantastic season, finished second, with no trophies to show for it. We’re in the same position, in the Champions League, with two trophies.

descriptive wordsWayne Rooney with his Europa League winners medal. Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP

Why is Mourinho so good at winning finals?

I think he just knows. Having had this season with him, I’ve seen how he works, I think he makes us so hard to beat, and hopes we’ll get a goal or two to win the game.

Is the build-up different to finals than league games, though?

Yeah, of course. Not as much as you’d think but of course a final is a final, it’s different — it’s a bit different in terms of your preparation. We’ve got some young players as well who’ve never experienced — well, they’ve experienced a couple of finals, but not European finals, it was a bit different.

The style is different from Alex Ferguson’s, but was it what this club needed, to build a platform?

Yeah, we needed to win trophies and to be honest, over the last few years, if you’d said we’d win four trophies in the last two years, then, you would have thought ‘where are those trophies going to come from?’ but we’ve done that, we’ve managed to do that and I feel we’re progressing as a team and a club, and I’m sure there’ll be many more.

descriptive wordsWayne Rooney has seen first-team opportunities reduced in recent seasons. Jason Cairnduff / Reuters

But isn’t this club really judged by competing in the Premier League and Champions League?

Yeah, of course, I think that’s where this club belongs, where it needs to be, and I certainly believe they’ve got the right man to lead them to that.

Are you going to be part of it?

Honestly, I’ve said before, I don’t know. I’ve got decisions to make now over the next few weeks, have a word with my family, and then I’ll decide.

Will you sit down with Mourinho this week, or when you come back from holiday? How can you work it out in your mind?

No, I know [laughs]. No, I know ... as the manager said before, he wants me to stay, but ...

If they sign people, will that limit your time more?

No, I don’t think it’s that, I think I just have to make a decision in terms of a football decision, and that’s what I’ll do. I’ll do that in the next few weeks with my family while I’m away and, honestly, as soon as I know what’s going on then, I’m sure you will know.

descriptive wordsWayne Rooney is Manchester United’s all-time leading goalscorer with 253 goals. Martin Rickett / PA

Is it just getting your head around not playing as much?

No, I think ... listen, first of all I’ve always been a team player. This year, I’ve never once sulked, let my head drop, I’ve understood what was best for the team, I’ve tried to help when the manager’s played me.

How hard is it for a player of your stature to sit there, only come on five minutes from the end?

Of course you want to play, you want to be on the pitch. I think a younger me would have been a lot more frustrated. I think I understand what’s right and what’s needed for the club, and I respect that. Obviously I’m happy to be part of that and in some way help the club win trophies and that’s the way it’s been over the last 18 months. That’s a decision I have to make now, whether I want to continue doing that or go on and play more regular football.

Ten years ago could you have played the 64 matches?

I still believe I could. You know, if you’re asking me if I’m a better player now than I was 10 years ago, then obviously I’m not but I still feel I’ve got other qualities that can help the team and as I said, it’s a decision I’ll make in the next couple of weeks and I’m sure, after the next couple of weeks.

descriptive wordsOne of Wayne Rooney’s most famous goals for Manchester United was this overhead kick against Manchester City in 2011. Alex Livesey / Getty Images

Have you got offers on the table?

Yeah, there’s lots of offers on the table, both in England and abroad and really that’s what I have to decide on.

Are you swaying in your head or have you already decided?

More or less, yeah [I’ve decided].

Do you want to share it?

No ... [Laughs]

Would you play for another Premier League club?

I’ve played for two Premier League clubs and they’re the only two Premier League clubs I’ll play for.

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