LONDON — Wayne Rooney is prepared to accept he is no longer an automatic pick for Manchester United following manager Jose Mourinho’s decision to drop him.
Skipper Rooney was benched for Saturday’s win over Leicester after a poor run of form, and knows he can no longer expect to be one of the first names on the teamsheet.
Although he is set to be restored to the starting line-up for the Europa League tie at home to Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk, he knows his days as United’s main man are over.
But Rooney, who has two years left on his contract with a mutual option for a third, has no intention of leaving United.
Rooney — 31 next month — has been linked with a big money move to Major League Soccer, but those close to him say he is determined to see out his United deal.
United’s 4-1 win over champions Leicester — their most impressive display under Mourinho — seemingly vindicated the decision to drop Rooney, who has looked out of sorts since the start
of the season.
Fellow Red Devils legend Gary Neville, who played alongside Rooney for club and country and then coached him with England, said the striker will have to get used to being rotated in and out of the team by Mourinho.
“This is a transition into a new phase of his career, where he’s potentially got to play a different way,” said Sky Sports pundit Neville.
“No player at 22 is the same at 32, 33, 34.
“If you look at Paul Scholes, he went from a marauding midfielder to a holding midfield player, Steven Gerrard the same, Ryan Giggs from a flying winger to a central midfield player.
“Rooney’s going through that period now. Potentially there will be a little bit of relief for him, in the sense of the scrutiny around him in the last week.
Meanwhile, Mourinho reportedly confronted Rooney about criticising other players’ performances.
The Sun reported Mourinho cornered Rooney at training to tell him not to complain about his teammates’ displays until his own performances were up to scratch.
Rooney was poor as United lost 3-1 at Watford two weekends ago before labouring through their midweek League cup win at Northampton. — Daily Mirror