Wayne Rooney's recent form is a reflection of Manchester United's current malaise, according to manager Jose Mourinho. The 30-year-old forward has been widely criticised for his below-par performances so far this season - but Mourinho has refused to blame his captain for United's troubles.
Prior to their EFL Cup win against Northamption Town earlier this week, United had lost three consecutive matches and fans on social media were quick to point the finger of blame at Rooney. However, Mourinho sought to deflect attention away from England's all-time leading goalscorer during a pre-match press conference ahead of Leicester City's visit to Old Trafford on Saturday (24 September).
"Rooney form is Man United form, we are a team, we are not Wayne Rooney," the United manager explained, according to The Mirror. "We like to say a very good start to the season was better than we could expect, we were guilty to raise expectations of people. We were punished by the fact we only played well for moments, in football you have to be consistent during 90 minutes."
Meanwhile, Mourinho also said he had no regrets over his decision to publicly criticise individual players for making errors. The Portuguese coach recently cited an error by defender Luke Shaw as being key to United's 3-1 defeat to Watford.
"It's a learning process, you make a mistake, especially individual mistakes then you have to learn," the United manager said. "A team that works to a game plan during the week, you try to identify agreements between us and then individual mistake punishes you. Criticism is part of the process, it helps them learn how to deal with criticism from you [the media]."
Rooney, meanwhile, recently hit back at his critics, arguing that most of the negativity that currently surrounds him is "rubbish". "I think I've had that my whole career – a little bit more of late, I think, but that's football. I listen to my coaches and my teammates, the people around me, and I don't really listen to what a lot of people out there are saying because a lot of it is rubbish," Rooney told MUTV.
"I have to focus, work hard, of course, and I've done that throughout my career. I've worked hard and tried to do my best for the team."