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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Mourinho: Rooney is still loved at Old Trafford

But Griezmann is man that Jose wants at United

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney
Jose Mourinho

Dropped England captain Wayne Rooney will receive "the respect he deserves" back at Manchester United, according to Jose Mourinho, even though he is currently trying to line up Antoine Griezmann as a potential replacement for the striker.

The 30-year-old returned to club duty last week following an international break where he was booed by fans at Wembley three days before interim Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate left the country's all-time record scorer out of his XI in Slovenia.

Mourinho sees French hitman Griezmann as the signing he needs next summer to take over from Rooney and the Portuguese is set to leave his captain on the bench against Liverpool tonight as well.

However, the United boss insists Rooney can rely on the backing of the Old Trafford faithful after certain sections of the England support turned on him against Malta.

"He was not booed by Man United fans," Mourinho said.

"To be honest, the last match when he went to the warm-up I was feeling Old Trafford was behind him and immediately supporting him during the warm-up before he came on against Stoke.

Respect

"I think at Man United he feels at home, at Man United he feels the respect he deserves. Not at Anfield, obviously, but he knows that here he is respected."

Such receptions will not be forthcoming at Anfield, where Rooney scored the winner in the league last year, given the United skipper's ties with the blue half of Merseyside.

Mourinho is also assured of a frosty welcome after the rivalry his old club Chelsea shared with Liverpool during his time in west London, and any ill feeling towards the Portuguese will not have dissipated since he took up his new post across the M62.

He has claimed victories in his last two trips to Liverpool in the league, with a success during Chelsea's most recent title-winning campaign following the victory at the back end of the previous term when the Reds were on the cusp of a first Premier League crown.

The latter win, which came sandwiched between two Champions League semi-final ties with Atletico Madrid in 2014, was celebrated with great delight by Mourinho and he admits these types of rivalry games are the ones he relishes tackling.

"For me, to play Liverpool is to play against a big club," he added.

"In Madrid I wanted to play against Barcelona, against Atletico, against Valencia. In Inter I wanted to play against Milan, against Juventus, against Roma.

"In Chelsea, I wanted to play against Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, all the big clubs in the country.

"Now at Man United, it's the same. I love to play against the big opponents and Liverpool is a big opponen t."

Meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand has backed Rooney to regain his place with United and England.

Ferdinand, a predecessor of Rooney as captain of United and England, recalled being told late in his career by then United manager Alex Ferguson that his game needed to change.

He said: "I've been where Wayne Rooney is. What's happened to him in the past couple of months will have left him feeling embarrassed and hurt but he can also reshape himself.

"He's been trying to do that in midfield, where there's more time on the ball, but I agree with Jose Mourinho, who sees him as a number nine or number 10, and in the number 10 role Wayne can become the guy who feeds the other attackers.

"He will have to fight for that number 10 job with some very good players at United but many people are too quick to dismiss him.

"Look at Italy's older players and what they bring tactically to a squad. Francesco Totti, Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini were looked on as icons. You don't just throw talent away.

Liverpool v United (live sky sports 1 8.0)

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