Football

Big boss, big hopes

Rooney hails Mourinho effect, United working on Pogba after world-record bid rejected

Wayne Rooney may have had only one training session with Jose Mourinho, but has seen enough to predict a "big season" under the new Manchester United manager.

A lot has changed at Old Trafford over the summer, with the outspoken Portuguese charged with restoring the club to glory after divisive manager Louis van Gaal's two-year reign was brought to an end.

It led to renewed hope that only increased with the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly, while a world-record move for Juventus' Paul Pogba remained on the cards as United arrived in China for a short pre-season tour.

Such summer activity makes Rooney confident that the frustrating post-Sir Alex Ferguson era will be soon coming to an end.

ROONEY'S ROLE

"I am excited for it," the United captain said of the campaign ahead, shortly after landing in Shanghai.

"It's going to be a big season for us. The appointment of Jose Mourinho is a fantastic appointment.

"We are all as a group of players excited by it and the signings that we have made have been fantastic.

"Hopefully, we can have a good start to the season and be successful at the end of it."

United get their campaign underway at Bournemouth on Aug 14, by which point Rooney's role within Mourinho's new-look team should have become clearer.

How best to utilise the 30-year-old is a question made all the more intriguing by the United boss saying he has no intention of playing the skipper in a deeper midfield role like predecessor van Gaal or former England manager Roy Hodgson.

The summer acquisitions of Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan have increased the competition for places in attack and Rooney knows how many eyes will be on him.

"You always feel pressure when you play for Manchester United," the captain said.

"It's one of, if not the, biggest football club in the world and it is a pleasure to have played for them for them for so long.

"Always you feel like you've got to prove yourself each season and it's a joy to play for them so, of course, there's pressure, there's pressure to be successful."

Rooney's first media appearance since England's embarrassing Euro 2016 exit to Iceland came during a peculiar and wide-ranging press conference with United's global partner Gulf Oil International.

It was taken in good humour, though, as was a question about how the captain was finding it working under former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan boss Mourinho.

"Well, I've had only one day before we come out," he said with a smile.

"But it was a very good day, a good training session.

"But you have to look at the teams he has been at before and the success he has brought to those teams, which we're hoping and we believe that he can bring that success to us."

Meanwhile, Man United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has not travelled for United's clash against Borussia Dortmund in Shanghai tomorrow amid reports that a world-record offer for Pogba has been rejected.

NO UNITED START

The 23-year-old departed Old Trafford four years ago having failed to make a single first-team start, racking up a mere seven appearances in all competitions.

Pogba subsequently flourished and has transformed into one of the world's best midfielders, shining during a medal-laden period with Serie A champions Juventus.

Now, though, a return to United could be on the cards and the Guardian reports a transfer package worth £100 million ($178m) has been turned down by the Turin giants.

The newspaper says Juventus want a basic £100m plus £8m add-ons for a player who is also attracting interest from Real Madrid, with head coach Zinedine Zidane an admirer of the midfielder.

However, United are the bookmakers' favourites to sign Pogba and Woodward was conspicuous by his absence when the team landed in Shanghai yesterday.

Woodward is hoping to add Pogba to the summer arrivals of Bailly, Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan, the last two are clients of Pogba's agent Mino Raiola.

Reports in Italy suggest the player has told Juventus he wants to leave, having last week publicly stated his happiness at the club.

It is understood Woodward could head to China for the second friendly against Manchester City in Beijing on Monday.

- PA Sport.

Footballwayne rooneyJose MourinhoManchester UnitedmanagerHENRIKH MKHITARYANERIC BAILLYjuventuspaul pogbaChinaborussia dortmundfriendly