United Complete Wan-Bissaka’s £50m Move

Aaron Wan-Bissaka of England(file)/AFP

 

Manchester United completed the signing of Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace for a reported fee of up to £50 million ($64 million) on Saturday.

“Manchester United is delighted to confirm the signing of Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace,” United staid in a statement.

“Aaron has signed a five-year contract with an option to extend for a further year.”

The 21-year-old made just 42 Premier League appearances for the Eagles, but was an outstanding performer last season.

READ ALSO: Women’s World Cup: Rapinoe Knocks Out Hosts France, Fires USA Into Semi-Finals

An initial fee of £45 million with an extra £5 million in add-ons has reportedly been agreed between the clubs, making Wan-Bissaka the most expensive defender in United’s history.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling and an honour to call myself a Manchester United player and something I know that only a small number of players have the privilege to say,” said Wan-Bissaka.

The Red Devils are in need of an overhaul after finishing sixth in the Premier League last season to miss out on Champions League qualification.

A long-term replacement at right-back for club captain Antonio Valencia, who left Old Trafford at the end of last season when his contract expired, was one of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s priorities in the transfer market.

“Aaron is one of the best upcoming defenders in the Premier League,” said Solskjaer.

“He has the right work ethic, talent and mentality to play for Manchester United and he fits exactly the type of player that we are looking to bring into the squad to help us improve and push on further.”

Wan-Bissaka will become United’s second signing of the summer following the arrival of winger Daniel James from Swansea as United turn their attention towards young, British players rather than the expensive star buys of recent seasons.

He will travel with his new teammates for a pre-season tour in Australia, Singapore and China after a short break to recover from a disappointing under-21 European Championships with England.

Wan-Bissaka scored an injury time own goal to gift France a 2-1 victory in England’s opening game in Italy and was then dropped for matches with Romania and Croatia as Aidy Boothroyd’s side crashed out at the group stages.

“I will have a short break now after the European Championships but I’m looking forward to starting training with the manager and my new team-mates on the pre-season tour,” he added.

AFP

Pogba Scores Brace To Hand Man United Tense Victory Over West Ham

 

Two converted penalties by Paul Pogba on Saturday gave Manchester United a tense victory against an excellent West Ham side. 

Pogba scored his 12th Premier League goal of the season’s campaign against the Hammers on Saturday after he successfully converted a first-half penalty kick.

Robert Snodgrass had brought down Juan Mata in the box at about the 18th minute, and Pogba did justice to the free shot, to give the Red Devils an early lead.

The French International went on to score his brace of the game in the 80th minute, again from the penalty spot.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s boys would go on to win the match 2-1, earning a valuable three points to keep hopes alive for a spot in the top-four.

READ ALSO: EPL: Moura’s Hat-Trick Lifts Spurs Into Third Place

Below are the English Premier League results on Saturday:

Brighton 0 Bournemouth 5 (Gosling 33, Fraser 55, Brooks 74, Wilson 82, Stanislas 90+2)

Burnley 2 (Wood 31, 90+2) Cardiff 0

Fulham 2 (Cairney 46, Babel 69) Everton 0

Southampton 3 (Redmond 2, 30, Long 71) Wolves 1 (Boly 28)

Tottenham 4 (Wanyama 24, Lucas Moura 27, 87, 90+3) Huddersfield 0

Manchester United 2 (Pogba 19-pen, 80-pen) West Ham 1 (Anderson 49)

Playing Sunday

Crystal Palace v Manchester City (1305 GMT), Liverpool v Chelsea (1530 GMT)

Monday

Watford v Arsenal (1900 GMT)

Played Friday

Leicester 0 Newcastle 1 (Perez 32)

Man United Thrash Cardiff 5-1 In Solskjaer’s First Match

Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial (L) celebrates after scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Cardiff City and Manchester United at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, south Wales on December 22, 2018. Geoff CADDICK / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made an instant impact as Manchester United caretaker manager with Paul Pogba to the fore in a transformed performance from the final days of Jose Mourinho’s reign in a 5-1 win over Cardiff on Saturday.

United are now just eight points behind Chelsea and Arsenal in the race for a top-four finish as goals from Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard’s double secured victory in the Welsh capital.

AFP

Solskjaer Back ‘Home’ At Manchester United

Cardiff City’s former Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks on before the English FA cup third round football match between Newcastle United and Cardiff City at St James’ Park in Newcastle upon Tyne on January 4, 2014. Ian MacNicol / AFP

 

New Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says it is “like coming home” as he starts his temporary tenure as the Red Devils’ boss, he told the club’s MUTV channel on Thursday.

Solskjaer, 45, made more than 360 appearances in 11 years for United and scored a dramatic Champions League winner in 1999 to seal a historic treble.

“It feels like coming home. It’s been a few whirlwind days, very hectic,” he said in his first interview since taking over from Jose Mourinho.

United called time on Mourinho’s two-and-a-half years at the club on Tuesday, with the club languishing sixth in the Premier League, 19 points behind leaders Liverpool.

Solskjaer will be at the helm at Old Trafford until the end of the season when the club will appoint a full-time successor.

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino is the current front-runner.

“It’s six months, I’m going to enjoy the ride. It’s about being myself. The club’s running a process to find the next manager so I’m just going to be myself in the meantime,” he added.

He will take charge of his first match on Saturday against Cardiff, where he spent an unhappy spell as manager in 2014.

AFP

Man United To Confirm Solskjaer Appointment

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks set to replace Jose Mourinho as Manchester United’s interim manager after the club appeared to accidentally announce the appointment on their website.

Mourinho was axed on Tuesday after just two-and-half years in charge at Old Trafford and the troubled Premier League club are reportedly ready to bring back one of their old heroes to take his place on a temporary basis.

Solskjaer, currently in charge of Norway’s Molde, was widely reported to be United’s leading candidate for the interim role for the rest of the season while they search for a permanent appointment in the close-season.

There has been no official announcement from the club, however, a video appeared on United’s official website celebrating Solskjaer and seeming to confirm his appointment.

A video of him scoring the winner for United in their 1999 Champions League final triumph against Bayern Munich was accompanied with the headline ‘The most famous night of Ole’s career’.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg also appeared to confirm Solskjaer’s appointment, writing on Twitter: “Great day for Norwegian football. Good luck in keeping control of the Red Devils.”

Solskjaer, nicknamed the baby-faced assassin, scored 128 goals in 367 appearances for United during 10 seasons playing under the club’s legendary boss Alex Ferguson, who signed him from Molde in 1996.

After retiring, the Norwegian was appointed as United’s reserve-team boss before joining Molde as manager in 2010.

Solskjaer had an ill-fated spell in charge of Cardiff in 2014, winning just nine of his 30 games as they were relegated from the Premier League before being dismissed and returning to Molde in 2015.

Molde’s season ended last month and does not resume until March 31, with Solskjaer unlikely to refuse the chance to manage such a prestigious club.

Ironically, his first match in charge of United could be against Cardiff on Saturday if the mooted deal is completed in time.

United are in sixth place in the Premier League after their worst start for 28 years.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane are among the bookmakers’ favourites to take the United job at the end of the season.

AFP

Mourinho Reveals Why He Is Not Picking Fred In Man United Team

Manchester United’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho 

Jose Mourinho suggested on Friday that Manchester United must get stronger defensively before he is ready to give Fred more games.

United spent £52 million ($66 million) on buying the Brazil midfielder from Shakhtar Donetsk in June but he has made just six Premier League starts.

Fred was left on the bench this week as United drew at Southampton and was dropped from the squad altogether on Wednesday as Mourinho’s side twice fought back from behind to secure a point against Arsenal.

The midfielder, who has not featured in any of United’s past four league matches, has lost his place in the Brazil squad after struggling to make an impression at Old Trafford.

Mourinho used Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera, and Paul Pogba in a three-man midfield for the 2-2 draw at Southampton, with no place in the team for the fourth-most expensive signing in United’s history.

The manager then elected to use Herrera and Nemanja Matic in front of a five-man defense against Arsenal, with Pogba and Fellaini relegated to the bench.

Mourinho has made clear that Fred’s time will come but does not believe the midfielder is yet ready to play regularly in the Premier League.

“Step by step, you have also other players in other clubs that needed their time and you have some of them that played even less than what Fred is playing,” said Mourinho.

“I think that when the team is defensively stronger and doesn’t need in midfield people who are more worried about giving balance in the team than creativity, and the day we are stronger defensively, then the horizons change for Fred.”

United, in eighth place in the Premier League, have already conceded 25 goals this season — compared with Liverpool’s six — and have a goal difference of minus one.

 United character 

Mourinho has questioned United’s character and competitiveness after the disappointment of draws against Crystal Palace and Southampton, asking whether the team had enough “mad dogs”.

However, he felt that they showed far more spirit as they drew 2-2 at home to Arsenal on Wednesday, giving him the reason for optimism as bottom-of-the-table Fulham prepare to visit Old Trafford on Saturday.

Asked if his players were showing more character, Mourinho said: “Yes. The numbers, the stats for me are not fundamental but sometimes they give us, they support our feelings, our ideas.

“We pressed the ball more, we have difficulties to Arsenal, we were fast in our transitions, so we had that spirit, we had that mentality that brought our game to a good level, to a better level.”

Mourinho expects Fulham to provide awkward opposition, even though they have won only twice in the Premier League all season.

The United manager is full of respect for new Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri, the man he replaced when taking his first English job at Chelsea in 2004.

“I want to be positive and think we are going to win but if we don’t, then we must give credit to the people that deserve credit,” Mourinho said.

“The game is not going to be 11 against zero, it’s going to be 11 against 11. They have good players on their side.

“The points total sometimes doesn’t say much about the real potential of the team. They are led by one of the two most important managers in the history of the Premier League, so they have the potential to come here tomorrow and to give us a very difficult match.”

AFP

Mourinho Aiming To Stop Rot As Man Utd Season Unravels

Manchester United’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho needs to lift Manchester United’s morale quickly as a deflating run of performances threatens to throw their season off track completely but he faces a daunting task against a revitalised Arsenal.

Mourinho’s team have not looked themselves at Old Trafford for much of the season, with their past two matches producing an insipid goalless draw against Crystal Palace and an unconvincing late Champions League victory over Swiss side Young Boys.

On their travels, they had looked as if they were getting back to form as October turned to November, with the side producing fine displays in drawing at Chelsea and beating Juventus.

Yet perhaps those performances were just papering over the cracks. United recovered from a two-goal deficit to draw at Southampton on Saturday and Romelu Lukaku scored his first club goal since September 15 but there was much to be alarmed about.

Mourinho claimed his players, with the exception of Marcus Rashford, were meek, lacking the spirit of what he called “mad dogs”.

According to Duncan Castles, a British journalist with close links to Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes, the United manager compared midfielder Paul Pogba to “a virus” after another poor performance at Southampton, saying the France international lacked respect for both his teammates and fans.

 Dressing room divisions 

United’s dressing room gives little indication of being a happy place ahead of Arsenal’s visit to Old Trafford on Wednesday.

To prove the point, forward Juan Mata effectively declined to publish his regular Monday internet column this week, instead posting a short message that began: “Unfortunately, I feel as though it isn’t the time for posts.”

During a season riddled with disappointments, Mourinho has by and large been treated sympathetically by the club’s fanbase, who feel that he was not given enough support in the last close-season transfer market by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

The manager’s frustration at not being able to sign a top-class centre-back has been raked over repeatedly but his defensive team selection at Southampton baffled even his most loyal supporters.

With Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly unfit, Mourinho elected to play two midfielders — Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic — in a three-man central defence against a team that had not won at home all season. It did not work.

Failure to win on the south coast further damaged United’s chances of finishing in the top four –- the ticket to Champions League qualification –- and Mourinho himself appears to believe that is now a long shot with his team lagging eight points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.

Asked by Brazilian television what his aims were for the remainder of the season, he said: “Try to win as many points as possible and try (to achieve) almost the miracle of finishing fourth.

“Last year, I said that finishing second was a fantastic thing because of the qualities we had in comparison to the quality of the other teams that are fighting for the top four. And this year, with more problems that we have had, it proves what I said.”

Arsenal, like United, spent relatively little in the close-season, bringing in Bernd Leno, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi for relatively modest sums, yet look revitalised under Unai Emery’s management.

They have gone 19 games unbeaten in all competitions since losing their first two matches of the season, and are playing a thrilling brand of aggressive, high-pressing football.

According to Uruguay midfielder Torreira, the manager’s words are making as much of an impact as his actions — as evidenced by his half-time team talk on Sunday before the Gunners recovered to beat Tottenham 4-2.

“He told us to be calm,” Torreira said. “We listened to the manager and we improved many things. That worked for us to get the victory.”

AFP

Mourinho Claims He ‘Didn’t Insult’ Juve In Celebration Row

Manchester United’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho gestures towards the public at the end of the UEFA Champions League group H football match Juventus vs Manchester United at the Allianz stadium in Turin on November 7, 2018. Isabella BONOTTO / AFP

 

Jose Mourinho insisted his provocative celebration of Manchester United’s dramatic 2-1 Champions League win at Juventus wasn’t meant to insult the Italian club.

Mourinho’s side snatched a vital Champions League victory in Turin thanks to two goals in the last four minutes.

Trailing to a superb strike from former United star Cristiano Ronaldo, the visitors hit back thanks to Juan Mata’s fine free-kick before Leonardo Bonucci’s own goal clinched the points.

Mourinho responded in typically controversial fashion as the United manager marched onto the pitch at the final whistle with his hand cupped to one ear.

“In a beautiful Italian city, they insulted me for 90 minutes. I didn’t insult them. I just made a little thing,” he told BT Sport.

“I know the millions of Inter fans are happy with that. But I respect Juventus, their players, the manager, the quality they have.”

The gesture was meant to ask the Juventus fans why they were no longer taunting him, as they had throughout the game to refer to his time as manager of their rivals Inter Milan.

Mourinho had also clashed with Juventus in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford when he held three fingers up to away fans, in reference to the treble he won with Inter in 2010.

Bonucci was furious and confronted Mourinho, who was quickly escorted down the tunnel by a member of United’s backroom staff before the explosive situation could escalate.

However, Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri played down the controversy.

“Everyone has their own personal reactions and how they celebrate. I can’t say whether he’s right or wrong,” he said.

 ‘Big victory’ 

United’s thrilling fightback was the perfect response to the taunts from Juventus as Mourinho’s men put themselves back on track to qualify for the last 16.

Mourinho was delighted with the way United recovered from falling behind to Ronaldo’s sublime second-half volley in a comeback that echoed their famous 1999 Champions League final win over Bayern Munich.

“We performed at a high level. After the goal, we had five minutes to wake up again. We were there from the first minute until the last,” he said.

“It is a big victory for us, not just because we needed the points but because it was away from home against an amazing team.

“They are a fantastic team with an amazing record at home. We had to come and not feel inferior. They have more potential than us. Everybody knows their ambitions.”

United, second in Group H, could book their place in the knockout stages if they win their next group match against Young Boys, depending on the result of Valencia’s match against Juventus on the same night.

“We thought we had two finals to play. Now we have one final at home to Young Boys,” Mourinho said.

AFP

Ronaldo Scores But Man United Stun Juve With Two Late Goals

Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after opening the scoring during the UEFA Champions League group H football match Juventus vs Manchester United at the Allianz stadium in Turin on November 7, 2018. Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first Champions League goal for Juventus but a stunning Manchester United comeback snatched a 2-1 win for the Premier League side to delay the Italians’ passage to the last 16 on Wednesday.

Ronaldo struck with a magnificent first-time volley on 65 minutes to seemingly leave Juve on course for the knockout phase, but Juan Mata equalised with an 86th-minute free-kick before Leonardo Bonucci turned into his own net.

Delighted United manager Jose Mourinho walked out onto the pitch at the Allianz Stadium cupping his ears and winking towards the crowd after a win that gave his side seven points from four games — two points behind leaders Juventus with two matches to play in Group H.

Juventus had proved wasteful with Sami Khedira and Paulo Dybala both hitting the woodwork before five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo brought the capacity 41,470 crowds to their feet when he hammered home Bonucci’s long pass from just inside United’s half.

“It’s not that we spoiled his (Ronaldo) goal, but five minutes from the end this shouldn’t have happened basically,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, whose side fell to their first defeat of the season.

“It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, but we can’t win all the time. It’s better to have this type of stumble tonight.

“What really annoys me is losing a match we deserved to win, but at this stage, it doesn’t matter that much, we still have nine points.”

It was the eighth goal this season for the 33-year-old Ronaldo who arrived from Real Madrid in July in a deal estimated to cost 340 million euros in total over four years, on top of the 110 million-euro transfer fee.

It was also the 121st Champions League goal for the player who holds the all-time record, and first, since the 90th-minute penalty, he scored for Real Madrid against Juventus in their dramatic quarter-final, second leg in Spain last April.

“We played a fantastic game, to our top level, as we cannot be any better than this,” said Mourinho.

“A point or three would have changed little for Juventus, but three points make a big difference to us.”

 United ride luck 

Allegri had urged his side to achieve their first aim of the season by reaching the last 16, and a draw would have been enough.

Manchester United were without injured forward Romelu Lukaku with Alexis Sanchez taking his place alongside Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial.

Ronaldo came close after five minutes when Bonucci laid it on for Dybala on the edge of the box, with the Argentinian chipping it over for Ronaldo whose volley was blocked by Victor Lindelof.

But the hosts sprung into action on the half-hour with a low Juan Cuadrado cross taking a deflection off Nemanja Matic’s knee before David De Gea reacted superbly to keep the ball out.

Ronaldo then teed up Khedira but the German’s low shot rattled the base of the post after 35 minutes.

United were then saved by the crossbar after the break with a curling Dybala effort flying over De Gea only to fail to dip enough.

But Ronaldo broke the deadlock when Bonucci curled over a pass which flew over Lindelof and straight into the path of Ronaldo who volleyed in past a helpless De Gea.

United though had the final word as Mourinho brought on Mata and Marouane Fellaini, who helped turn the game round in just four minutes, the Spaniard bending in a free-kick from the edge of the box to give the visitors a scarcely-deserved equaliser.

Juve were then left in shock as Ashley Young’s free-kick from the left bounced in off a combination of Bonucci and Alex Sandro after a frantic scramble in front of goal.

Mourinho conceded he had got carried away with his celebration.

“They insulted me for 90 minutes. I came here to do my job, nothing more,” said the former Inter Milan coach.

“I didn’t offend anyone at the end, I just made a gesture that I wanted to hear them louder. I probably shouldn’t have done it, with a cool head I wouldn’t have.”

AFP

Mourinho Hails ‘Fantastic’ Comeback As United Steal Ronaldo Thunder

Manchester United’s English defender Chris Smalling (L) and Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (2ndL) celebrate after Juventus’ Brazilian defender Alex Sandro (C) scored an own goal during the UEFA Champions League group H football match Juventus vs Manchester United at the Allianz stadium in Turin on November 7, 2018. Isabella BONOTTO / AFP

 

Jose Mourinho hailed a “fantastic victory” after Manchester United stole the thunder of Cristiano Ronaldo and a dominant Juventus with a 2-1 win in the Champions League on Wednesday.

A jubilant Mourinho made the most of the last-gasp victory, going onto the pitch at full-time and cupping his ear to jeers from the crowd, who had earlier cheered former Juventus player Paul Pogba on his return to Turin.

Juventus players Leonardo Bonucci and Paulo Dybala confronted Mourinho with United captain Ashley Young intervening as Mourinho was led off the pitch by a UEFA official.

“They insulted me for 90 minutes. I came here to do my job, nothing more,” said former Inter Milan coach Mourinho.

“I didn’t offend anyone at the end, I just made a gesture that I wanted to hear them louder. I probably shouldn’t have done it, with a cool head I wouldn’t have.”

Ronaldo’s superb volley — his first European goal for Juventus — had put the Italian champions in control after 65 minutes, two weeks after Dybala scored in the only goal at Old Trafford.

But substitute Juan Mata’s free-kick on 86 minutes sparked a stunning revival that breathed new life into the visitors’ Champions League campaign.

Juve were then left in shock as Ashley Young’s free-kick from the left bounced in off a combination of Bonucci and Alex Sandro after a frantic scramble in front of goal.

It left Mourinho’s side just two points behind leaders Juventus with two matches to play in Group H.

“It’s a fantastic victory for us, a victory that is not just about the points we lost at home but the feeling of how well we played,” said Mourinho.

“And I think even if this game hadn’t ended with the victory I would have the same feeling that the team played really, really well from the first minute against a super team.”

 ‘Heroics’ 

Juventus had dominated the match for long periods with Sami Khedira and Dybala both rattling the woodwork, only for the hosts to get distracted after Ronaldo’s goal.

“We dominated for the 90 minutes. We had two or three clear chances and we should have been able to put the game to bed with ease, but we paid for switching off,” said Ronaldo after his team’s first defeat this season.

“It’s never nice to lose, but maybe this defeat comes at the best possible time. We have a great team, we’re top of the group and I’m sure we’ll go through as group winners.”

Mourinho’s decision to bring on Mata and Marouane Fellaini in place of Ander Herrera and Alexis Sanchez on 79 minutes paid off.

And the Portuguese coach recalled bygone days going back to United’s time under Alex Ferguson.

“Probably when Manchester United had heroics here (in the past) Manchester United was the best team and they (Juventus) are a top team for many years now,” said Mourinho.

“They bought that player (Ronaldo), they want to win everything, they can win everything and we are a team where many of the players didn’t play big matches like this in the Champions League.”

The victory also gave the United coach optimism before next week’s Premier League clash against table-toppers Manchester City at Etihad Stadium.

“We played this season against Chelsea and Juventus away, the two best teams that we face this season and we played very well in both,” said Mourinho.

“Here we were lucky to win in last minute, against Chelsea unlucky not to win in last minute but we played very, very well and this is what we want.

“We want to play well, we want to go to every stadium, and it doesn’t matter the team.

“I want the feeling (that) it doesn’t matter where we go, we go to compete and this is the feeling the Manchester United supporters around the world want.”

AFP

Mourinho Charged For Comments Made After United’s Victory Over Newcastle

Mourinho

 

 

Jose Mourinho was charged by the Football Association on Tuesday over comments he made after Manchester United’s victory against Newcastle and faces a potential touchline ban if found guilty.

The United manager spoke into a camera after his side came from behind to triumph 3-2 at Old Trafford, easing the immediate pressure on him after a string of poor results.

“Jose Mourinho has been charged following Manchester United’s game against Newcastle United on October 6, 2018,” said an FA spokesman.

“It is alleged that his language at the end of the fixture, as captured by the broadcast footage, was abusive and/or insulting and/or improper. He has until 6:00 pm on October 19, 2018, to respond to the charge.”

The match was played in a tense atmosphere, United having denied a report earlier in the day that Mourinho would be sacked that weekend regardless of the result.

United recovered from 2-0 down to complete a dramatic comeback with a last-gasp goal from Alexis Sanchez. The victory ended a run of four games without a win.

Footage shows Mourinho saying something, apparently in Portuguese, while at one point looking into a camera, as he headed towards the tunnel after the final whistle.

He also made a gesture with his right hand while speaking, pointing with his little finger.

The 55-year-old, who said after the match that he was the subject of a media “manhunt”, said when asked about the gesture: “It is a finger. Smaller than the others, but it is a finger.”

AFP

Rooney Calls On Man United Players To ‘Stand Up’

Everton’s English striker Wayne Rooney Photo: Paul ELLIS / AFP

Wayne Rooney has called on Manchester United’s players to stand up and be counted, saying that manager Jose Mourinho is an easy target for the club’s troubles.

United battled back from two goals down to beat Newcastle 3-2 at the weekend but are languishing in eighth place in the Premier League, seven points off top spot.

Following the win, Mourinho accused his critics of staging a “manhunt” to get him sacked after a string of bad results and rifts with players including French midfielder Paul Pogba.

But former United captain Rooney, who now plays for D.C. United in Major League Soccer (MLS), said the players had to take some responsibility for the situation.

“It’s tough (at United), it has been a tough situation,” he said in comments reported by Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“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) is a bit of everything coming together but Jose is an easy target. Some of the players have to be better.”

Former England forward said the situation at Old Trafford was similar to when Louis van Gaal was at the helm.

“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 but we didn’t produce on the pitch, so I am sure that is getting said behind the scenes.”

Rooney now has nine goals in 16 matches since signing for D.C. United from Everton in June.

The 32-year-old striker has played a part in a late-season surge that has left United two points behind Montreal for the sixth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth with two games in hand.

AFP