Football

Mourinho: Win us the Europa League, Rooney

Mourinho urges United's record scorer in Europe to lead the club to the only title they have never won

GROUP A

MAN UNITED 4

(Wayne Rooney 35, Juan Mata 69, Brad Jones 75-og, Jesse Lingard 90+2)

FEYENOORD 0

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho challenged Wayne Rooney to lead the club to Europa League glory after the England captain broke United's European scoring record against Feyenoord.

Rooney, 31, scored his 39th European goal as United crushed Feyenoord 4-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time), to move within just one goal of Bobby Charlton's all-time record of 249 goals.

United need just a draw away to Ukrainians Zorya Luhansk in their final Group A game to progress to the knockout phase and Mourinho says Rooney can be the inspiration behind the club's first success in the competition.

"It's an amazing achievement, obviously," Mourinho said when asked to sum up Rooney's feat in surpassing Ruud van Nistelrooy as United's outright leading scorer in Uefa competitions.

"It will be even better if he can help to bring to the club the only competition that the club have never won, which is the Europa League.

"It's not the biggest competition, obviously, but it's a competition that Man United's history doesn't have.

"So let's try, let's push.

"I know that it's difficult.

"I know there are lots of matches in the knockout (phase).

"But let's try to qualify, and if we qualify in Ukraine, then more matches to come and hopefully more goals for Rooney to score."

Rooney's performance followed a week of negative headlines after he supposedly "gatecrashed" a late-night wedding party while on England duty.

He, however, denied that allegation and hit out at the media.

The United skipper told BT Sport: "I think people in the media (are) making a big deal over nothing.

"I actually didn't even step foot into the wedding and I think it's a shame that I'm having to talk about it now after such a great victory."

Fellow striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic called his teammate the "perfect player".

Referring to his alleged indiscretions while on England duty, the Swede said: "I think when you're a person like that, when you're famous like that, people are interested.

"They want to know everything.

"I don't know what has happened, I didn't even ask him because it's not important for me and I'm 100 per cent sure the media doesn't know what really happened.

"I think we should appreciate him for the player he is, what he did.

"I don't see many players from England who have had the same career as him.

"I feel a little bit sorry of the situation because we should show more respect for him.

"Everybody wants to make a little thing a big thing. I'm used to it from Sweden, I don't mind it...

"As a player, there are no words to not say about him - he's the perfect player."

While Ibrahimovic might think Rooney is the perfect player, former Manchester United poacher Michael Owen thinks the 35-year-old is far from the perfect striker for the Red Devils.

STOP-GAP STRIKER

Owen said on BT Sport: "He's definitely a stop-gap striker, isn't he?

"He's good, but we're talking Manchester United, you need to be one of the best strikers in the world to be the regular striker here.

"Jose Mourinho didn't think the current crop were ready.

"(Marcus) Rashford: not ready. Wayne Rooney: probably saw him as a No 10. (Anthony) Martial: didn't see him as a striker. So (Zlatan) is a stopgap.

"A little bit like a few seasons ago when Robin van Persie was just brought for the one or two seasons while we find someone else on the market or some young kid can come through."

His former teammate Paul Scholes agreed, adding: "He's an athlete and a fit lad.

"He'll be good to have around the place, for someone like Marcus Rashford to learn from.

"If at 35 years of age he's going to be the main striker, them no, I don't see that...

"As special as he (Ibrahimovic) has been over his career, and as special as he is now, I don't think he should be the main one.

"I think Marcus can take that role, I think now Marcus should be learning from (Zlatan) as much as he can."

- Wire Services.


OTHER RESULT

  • Fenerbahce 2 Zorya Luhansk 0
wayne rooneyManchester UnitedEUROPA LEAGUE