18 Nov Rooney ready for Arsenal
Jose Mourinho admits last weekend “didn’t go well” for England captain Wayne Rooney, but the Manchester United manager says that chapter is closed for the fit-again forward.
The 31-year-old’s difficult start to the season continued on international duty, with his starting role in last Friday’s World Cup qualifying win against Scotland followed by injury and controversy.
Rooney missed the 2-2 draw with Spain due to a minor knee complaint but has dominated the headlines since then, with the Sun newspaper printing images showing the England skipper, wearing a training top, looking the worse for wear.
The forward is alleged to have dropped in on a wedding party at The Grove hotel until the early hours of Sunday, leading him to “unreservedly” apologise to interim manager Gareth Southgate, the Football Association and young fans.
“Over the last two or three days, nothing happened,” Rooney’s club manager Mourinho said on the eve of his side’s game against Arsenal. “He trained like everybody else, he wants to play like everybody else. He is ready.
“What happened in the national team, happened in the national team. I don’t comment.
“My players when they go to the national team, they belong to the national team. What happens there for good, for bad. I don’t interfere and I don’t like to comment.
“Sometimes they come back stronger than when they left us, because something good happened there, something positive for them, good performances, good results.
“Other times injuries, sometimes big injures, other times frustrations because they didn’t play, because the result was bad.
“In this case, we know what didn’t go well. But national team is a different chapter and a chapter that is closed now until I think March or the end of February.”
The issue has led the FA to review its policy relating to players’ free time and Rooney’s behaviour to be widely debated.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp defended the forward’s late-night antics, while Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says players must take responsibility for their own actions.
“I was an international player in my period as a football player and sometimes I’m drunk as well, so I was lucky there were no pictures or something like that,” the Spaniard said.
“You drink as well, you are responsible. I was responsible and Wayne is responsible for that. I don’t think the association has to be responsible for that.
“We are people, we are old enough to take our responsibilities, but this can happen. But it is the private life. Private life is private life, so we have to respect absolutely what other people do.”
Sunderland boss David Moyes has also had his say on a player he managed at Everton and Manchester United.
“I think an awful lot has been made of it, and I think there are a lot of people maybe writing it who would like a drink as well at times and people saying it,” Moyes said.
“I have known Wayne since (he was) a boy – it hasn’t affected his goalscoring, it hasn’t affected his performances. He’s been a brilliant player – he’s just about to break the record at Manchester United, he has done at England.
“He got some time off, so I don’t see too big a problem, and Wayne will know exactly how he feels about it.”
Asked if Rooney was an easy player to manage, Moyes said: “He was a really good boy to manage because the one thing you knew, the minute he went on the pitch, whatever he had done or whatever had happened didn’t matter.
“He always felt he wanted to show what he could do. He was a good boy, a good boy.”
Eddie Jones, the England rugby union coach, also put in his tuppence worth, with the FA’s review into players’ free time suggesting to the Australian that the wrong people might be in leadership roles.
When asked what a curfew would mean for his squad, head coach Jones said: “Well then I’ve got the wrong captain and the wrong vice-captains.
“The time we have to have a curfew is the time we don’t have a leadership group within the team.
“The players are adults. Most of the players have got their own families. After the game they’ll go back to the hotel, they’ll have a few beers and they’ll decide when they go to bed.
“We’ve got a great leadership group within the team so we don’t need to have curfews. I generally like the players to set the regulations because then it’s self-policing.
“I’ve had teams that have set curfews. Most teams I’ve had have never set curfews.
“They are professional sportsmen who have the privilege of playing for England.
“They have to do everything to be at their best for England. If they do anything outside of that, then they don’t want to play for England.”