Jose Mourinho has jumped to the defence of Wayne Rooney admist criticism of his poor form ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with champions Leicester City.
Rooney has been criticised for his recent performances as United lost three successive games before a 3-1 EFL Cup victory at Northampton Town.
Rooney defended himself on Thursday, describing the comments as “rubbish” in an interview with MUTV, and Mourinho was also quick to back his captain in his prematch news conference ahead of Saturday’s clash with champions Leicester City.
Mourinho said United will win as a team and lose as a team when he was asked about his Rooney’s form at his prematch news conference.
“We are a team, we are not Wayne Rooney,” he said. ‘We all started well, we all won four matches, and we all lost three matches in a week, so that is not Wayne Rooney.
“To be honest he did not even play against Feyenoord, so he was directly involved in the two matches.
“We had a very good start to the season, better than we expected and prepared for, and we were guilty of raising the expectations of the people and then we lost three matches in a row.”
Mourinho himself was critical of Luke Shaw after the defeat to Watford last weekend.
“It’s a learning process,” he insisted. “When you make an individual mistake you have to learn, to learn what that means for a team that works during the week with a game-plan.
“You can be punished by that. We were punished by other people’s mistakes. The critic is part of the evolution, part of the process.”
Earlier this week, Mourinho said football is “full of Einsteins” in a response to criticism leveled against him following a poor run of form.
“I am lucky. I can’t be upset with anything,” he added on Friday. “The only thing that upsets me is criticism to my players as I would love to protect them.
“I can’t. It’s out of my control. But the Einsteins need money to live. They can’t coach or sit on the bench. But they can speak and write and criticise the work of other people.
“But I am a good man, a man of good will. So why not also feed the Einsteins?”
When asked about the difficult task of facing reigning champions Leicester, the Portuguese jokingly referred to himself as “the worst manager in the history of football” in relation to his back-to-back title triumphs with Chelsea in 2005 and 2006.
“It’s obviously very difficult to retain the title,” he said. “Not for Leicester but for everybody. History says that. Not many teams during the Premier League history could do that.
“One of the teams was of course Man United, another one was some team managed [by] the worst manager in the history of football.
“But it’s really difficult. The reality is I look at them and they are very good. They are very good. They won the Premier League because some of the big teams were not good enough last season but they won because they were very good and they are still very good.
“I think they are a very easy team to analyse, [a] very easy team to understand. Their defensive process is clear, their attacking organisation is very easy to understand too, but it’s very difficult to cope with it.
“It’s very difficult to keep a clean sheet against a team like Leicester and it’s difficult to score goals against a team like Leicester so I keep repeating this: easy to understand but difficult to play against.”