Monday 23 April 2018

Mourinho hails 'real legend' Rooney on United return

Everton’s Wayne Rooney. Photo: Reuters
Everton’s Wayne Rooney. Photo: Reuters

Wayne Rooney will be welcomed as a "real legend" when he returns to Old Trafford this weekend, according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

England's record goalscorer left United to return to boyhood club Everton this summer after 13 successful years with the Red Devils.

Rooney, who since returning to Merseyside has retired from international football tomorrow returns to the club where he scored a record 253 goals in 559 appearances.

Mourinho expects the Old Trafford faithful to show the 31-year-old their appreciation, but the United boss hopes fans put that welcome on hold during the match.

"I think sometimes in this country the word 'legend' comes too easily. That's not his case, he's a real legend of the club," said Mourinho.

"The number of appearances, the number of goals, the number of trophies - clearly he's one of the most important players in the history of Manchester United.

"And I think the stadium will show him that respect that he deserves, I hope before the match and after the match, not during the match."

Everton arrive at Old Trafford tomorrow - a day before Rooney faces a charge of drink driving in court - looking to end a miserable run of form.

Ronald Koeman's men have conceded eight goals in defeats to Chelsea, Tottenham and Atalanta, with that three-match losing streak the tail-end of a five-game winless run.

But Mourinho warned: "Everton are a team with an incredible investment - an investment (on a par with) the teams that want to play for the title, so I am sure that their objective, if not the title, is the top four."

While Everton have threats in their armoury, they know better than anyone what a handful Romelu Lukaku will pose.

Signed from the Toffees for an initial £75m over the summer, the Belgian striker has netted six goals in as many games in a seamless start to life at United.

"I think he came to us at the right moment - (at) a good age, (with a) good number of years of experience in different clubs in the Premier League," Mourinho added.

"Clearly he is a player who has adapted to the Premier League, with good friends already in this dressing room, with an easy integration in our group and the way the team is trying to play also has a good relation with his qualities as a player.

"So I think he came in the right moment in his career."

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