Wayne Rooney has backed Jose Mourinho to succeed at Manchester United, telling underperforming players to “stand up” and shoulder more responsibility.
Rumours of divides within the Red Devils camp refuse to go away, with leading players such as Paul Pogba reported to have suffered a breakdown in their working relationship with their under-fire boss.
Pressure has built on Mourinho as a result, with the Portuguese now having to fend off exit talk, but Rooney feels the man in charge has become “an easy target” for those refusing to question an inconsistent squad.
United’s all-time leading goalscorer told reporters after his latest outing for MLS side D.C. United: “It’s tough [at Old Trafford], it has been a tough situation.
“The players, the manager, it has been a tough start to the season.
“I know Jose is getting a load of stick but I said a few weeks ago, the players have to stand up. They have to be counted and they have to be better. The manager can do so much but then it is down to the players on the pitch to produce and probably collectively.
“It [the poor run of form] is a bit of everything coming together but Jose is an easy target. Some of the players have to be better.
“I said the same thing when Louis van Gaal was there. He took a lot of stick but behind closed doors I said to the players, ‘We have to be doing better’.
“Personally I think he [Van Gaal] set us up brilliantly the way but we didn’t produce on the pitch so I am sure that is getting said behind the scenes.”
Quizzed as to why Mourinho’s men have found the going so tough this term, Rooney said: “It’s a young team, different pressure, quite a lot of those players maybe haven’t faced this before and they maybe haven’t got the senior players which I had there as a young player to help in those difficult moments. There are not enough of them to help you through it.”