Belfast Telegraph

Jose opens the door to potential Old Trafford return for Rooney

By Mark Critchley

Jose Mourinho has suggested that Wayne Rooney will return to Manchester United one day having seen his former striker warmly received on his return to Old Trafford with Everton.

Rooney was on the losing side as United ran out 4-0 victors over Ronald Koeman's men, but he received an ovation when substituted in the 82nd minute after a hard-working performance.

Mourinho was pleased with the tributes paid to Rooney by the Old Trafford crowd and believes that United's all-time record scorer could yet play a part at the club again.

"It's the nature of English fans, it's the nature of big clubs when the player is big in the club and is an important part of the club history," he said of the ovation Rooney received.

"Every club in England does that. I can only speak by Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford but in both stadiums when we got former important players the reception is normally phenomenal.

"He's at home and I believe that one day he will be back home," he added.

Victory over Everton saw United go level with Manchester City at the top of the table, after Pep Guardiola's side thrashed Watford 6-0 on Saturday.

The two cannot be separated by points, goal difference, goals scored or goals conceded.

Mourinho and Guardiola enjoyed several tussles at the top of the league table during their respective spells at Real Madrid and Barcelona, but the Portuguese claimed that he took more interest in the results of rivals who failed to win this weekend.

"Today I didn't think one single second about Manchester City," he said. "I thought about Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool. They didn't win their match.

"It was a chance for us to get two points like they got last week when we drew with Stoke. City won their game and did their job. I was thinking about the others.

"When I saw their results I thought this was an opportunity we could not waste."

Ronald Koeman was, meanwhile, unimpressed by Mourinho's pre-match comments about Everton's expenditure and expectations.

The scoreline may have been harsh but Koeman's men have now not won in six matches in all competitions, losing their last four without scoring and conceding 12 goals in the process.

"I felt, on the touchline, there is something possible this afternoon because I wasn't so impressed by United," the Everton boss said.

"That is maybe strange after a 4-0 defeat but, yes, they were really clinical and we didn't deserve this defeat."

Koeman felt his side were better than Thursday's abject 3-0 Europa League loss at Atalanta and made life difficult for United, with summer signings Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson having their best chances.

Mourinho pointed at such high-profile acquisitions in his programme notes, saying Everton had spent over £140million during the summer and want "at least to secure a top four position this season".

Koeman added: "Sorry, if there's anybody in this room and outside who sees something realistic (about) what is possible for this Everton, please come on. Be realistic and let's talk at the end of the season."

Belfast Telegraph

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