JOSE Mourinho admits he ‘got emotional’ the day Wayne Rooney left Manchester United for his boyhood club, Everton.
Not tears exactly but a sharp pang of regret for they got on well together even though Rooney was no longer a first name on the team sheet. United’s manager went out of his way to wish his departing captain well. Rooney, also England’s leader last season, was a £10-million makeweight in the deal which saw Everton’s Romelu Lukaku join United for £75-million down with £15-million to follow.
The valuation on Rooney flushed that transfer up to £100-million at least on paper. At Goodison, Rooney will be on half the money he’s been used to but United have given him an unstated farewell present to help fill the gap. After a disastrous game at Watford last November for reasons never explained, Rooney dropped out of Mourinho’s first-line thinking but never complained.
When they won the League Cup and then the Europa League he was given the honour of hoisting the trophies up in his role as captain if hardly playing. Publicly, Mourinho said he didn’t want him to leave but the practicality is that he can bring in two players for the money he was on.
As for the player, Rooney’s choice to spurn the riches offered by China was a sensible one. He claimed he never lost his love for his old club and even slept in a pair of Everton blue pyjamas with their insignia on the pocket.
He scored in their first two pre-season friendlies but received a questioning rating in his Europa League qualifier the other night, a narrow win over Slovakia’s third-rated team.
Everton have not made him captain but have given him the chance to show you are not too old these days at 30 in the Premier League. In fact he will be 32 in October and his old captain’s armband at United will be worn by Michael Carrick who was 36 in the week.