Jose Mourinho, the coach of Manchester United, explained to the journalists that the reason for leaving his captain, Wayne Rooney, out of the squad before the match against Feyenoord in the first round of Europa League competition is – rest.
So far, Rooney played every single game this season, including one match for the national team of England, so Mourinho wanted to give his captain some time to rest.
Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, and Wayne Rooney are the three players that haven’t traveled to Rotterdam, Netherlands, to face Feyenoord in the first game of the group stage. They all have stayed back in Manchester.
Mourinho praised Rooney’s willingness to play in every game, but Watford is waiting for Man Utd on Sunday, so the captain accepted the decision. Especially because the match against Watford starts at 12 o’clock.
“He played every game since the beginning of the season, he played also 90 minutes for England and he played 90 minutes last weekend”, Mourinho explained the situation of the 30-year-old captain. He pointed out that he wants his captain ready and fresh for the next Premier League match. Since Rooney is an attacker, Mourinho still has other solutions. There are players that are “working hard to have a chance” as the coach explained. “He took it professionally, just like the other players”, said Mourinho. Valencia and Shaw didn’t travel with the team as well. “They all play in positions where I have other solutions and where I prefer to have fresh players for this game and for the game at the weekend.”
As he described, he wants to have a strong team in both matches. One against the Feyenoord this evening and the other against Watford on Sunday at noon.
As for Luke Shaw, this Thursday is exactly one year after his horrifying double leg break against PSV Eindhoven. Mourinho revealed that did not affect his thinking Shaw at home. “The decision was not made thinking about that negative episode, so the reason is simple – Marcos Rojo is a very good player. He is working really hard, my options in the Premier League in the last four matches were always Luke, Luke, Luke, so I think it’s time for Marcos to play – a simple decision.”
Speaking of Mourinho and Europa League, he has one trophy in this competition. He won it with Porto in 2003; they beat Celtic with 3-2 after extra time. The match was played at the Estadio Olimpico in Seville, Spain. Back at that point, the competition was called The UEFA Cup. Now, Manchester United’s coach agrees that he would rather be in the Champions League, but he promised to take seriously the Europa League.
“This is not a competition Manchester United wants, what I want, what the players want, but it is a competition where we are, and that is the reality, so we have to look at the competition with respect,” Mourinho concluded.