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Tuesday 22 August 2017

'Best to come' from Rooney

Mourinho delight as United ace equals record

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho

A buoyant Jose Mourinho insists Wayne Rooney's 'best day' is still ahead of him with Manchester United.

Rooney equalled Bobby Charlton's record goalscoring tally of 249 with United's opener in the 4-0 FA Cup hammering of Reading on Saturday, drawing applause from the United great and bringing former manager Alex Ferguson to his feet.

The finish was only Rooney's fourth of an impotent season but Mourinho refused to dwell on a difficult campaign for the United captain, who usurped Charlton's England scoring record last season.

"I think the best day will arrive," Mourinho said. "This is not the best day for him, it's just a question of when but it's amazing because everybody knows who Sir Bobby is and what he means for the history of the club and the history of English football and for Wayne to score the same amount of goals for Manchester United is fantastic.

"But again the best day will arrive. I think the best day will arrive is the day he scores the next goal and becomes top scorer in history of Man United and it's an amazing thing."

Disputed

Some historians have disputed Charlton's 249 count, since he scored twice against Verona in the long defunct Anglo-Italian Cup.

However, the tournament does not count as a 'first-class competition'. Charlton also struck twice against Reading in the Watney Cup.

Mourinho also confirmed he will make at least four changes to the United side for the EFL Cup semi-final first leg against Hull tomorrow.

Only Marcos Rojo and Michael Carrick were retained for the the Reading match as Mourinho rested a number of players who had figured prominently during a hectic schedule over Christmas and the new year.

The stroll against Reading ensured December player of the month nominees Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic remained on the bench, while Spanish-speaking contingent David de Gea, Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia were left out of the squad as they enjoyed breathers.

Sacked

United are bidding to record a ninth consecutive win within a season for the first time since February 2009 against Hull, who recently sacked Alex Ferguson's former assistant Mike Phelan and replaced him with Mourinho's compatriot Marco Silva.

"I play with the players that didn't play today," Mourinho said.

"To win it [the EFL Cup] we have to win three matches and we have Hull City, and we have Liverpool or Southampton, it's not going to be easy. But I think the fact you are winning matches is good and you are not going to throw away an opportunity for that.

"So today I play with fresh players, I don't want to put things in first-team or second-team, or first-choice or second-choice, today I play with fresh players.

"The players that didn't play against West Ham and the next match against Hull I'm going to play with fresh players.

"So it's easy to know our team, it's Zlatan, it's Pogba, it's Herrera, it's Valencia, it's the guys who didn't play today."

However, United face an anxious wait over the extent of Marcos Rojo's muscle injury.

Rojo was substituted in the 19th minute against Reading for Phil Jones but was able to walk down the Old Trafford tunnel as he received a rapturous ovation from the Stretford End.

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