Belfast Telegraph

Defender Phil Jones says scrutiny is 'water off a duck's back' for Wayne Rooney

Manchester United defender Phil Jones thinks Wayne Rooney once again proved the scrutiny on his off-field life will not impact him after his record-breaking strike on Thursday.

The 31-year-old scored his 39th goal in continental competition in a 4-0 win over Feyenoord at Old Trafford to move ahead of Ruud van Nistelrooy on United's list of all-time scorers in European games.

It ensured Rooney's name was plastered across newspapers again but this time in a more positive light, following the publication of images of him looking worse for wear in England training kit during the international break.

Though the Three Lions skipper apologised for the pictures, he labelled his treatment "disgraceful" and claimed he felt the victim of a media witchhunt.

However, his team-mate Jones insists his performance in the Europa League on Thursday was evidence of how Rooney can ultimately rise above the noise.

"It's been difficult for him but it's water off a duck's back for him," the defender said.

"He's dealt with that throughout his career. He's shown that it doesn't bother him. He put in a good performance and got his goal."

With one club record already secured, Rooney is also closing on Sir Bobby Charlton's all-time haul of 249 after his 248th strike as a United player.

The 250-mark should therefore be accomplished in the coming weeks for a player who has typically hit purple patches throughout his time at Old Trafford and, with West Ham visiting on Sunday, Jones is hoping a fast start will see him pull level with Charlton.

"I'm buzzing for him," added Jones.

"He's a world-class player, has been for many years, a legend at the club. I'm just delighted for him; he's a great lad off the pitch as well.

"I hope he scores in the first minute on Sunday. He's got all the talent in the world so let's hope he keeps scoring the goals."

Goals are exactly what United boss Jose Mourinho is craving for a group of players he recently dubbed the "the unlucky team in the Premier League".

They managed four the last time they won on home soil in the league against Leicester back in September and their Portuguese boss believes the tide will turn as soon as his strikers rediscover their scoring touch.

"We need to put the ball in the net," Mourinho said.

"(On Thursday) we scored four, but I think we missed also three or four chances.

"So I think it is just that - but that has also to be with confidence levels. (On Thursday) we were winning 1-0 and missing chances, and then we lost the ball in midfield and they got a direct free-kick, I thought it would be 1-1.

"You have immediately negative feelings because you play so well and you don't score goals and you don't win matches.

"So I think what we need in the Premier League is exactly that - to have a match where we score goals. People like Zlatan (Ibrahimovic), like Rooney, especially, guys whose happiness depends on the goals they score, they need that."


From Belfast Telegraph