Jose Mourinho has hit out at the Football Association’s failure to protect Wayne Rooney, saying a week of negative headlines involving the England captain has had “an effect.”
Manchester United forward Rooney, 31, is expected to face Arsenal at Old Trafford on Saturday after training at Carrington following his departure from the England squad with a minor knee injury.
Since being released from Gareth Southgate’s squad, reports of Rooney allegedly drinking into the early hours at the England team hotel, with accompanying photographs, led to claims he could be stripped of the international captaincy.
He has issued an apology and the Football Association has said it will be conducting a “proper investigation” into reports that members of England’s backroom staff had been with him.
While sources within the FA have told ESPN FC no decision will be made on Rooney’s status until a permanent manager has been appointed — the captaincy may not even be addressed until England’s next game in March — Mourinho suggested at a news conference that the FA had failed to properly look after Rooney.
“I am saying that I think even if you build a kind of wall around you to try to feel protected from what people write about you or think about you, the comments people make about you, even if you tried to build that wall, the wall has always points of fragility,” he said.
“It has always some little holes, and we are not still. We are flesh and blood, so I think it has an effect.”
Asked whether he felt let down by Rooney, Mourinho instead turned his focus to the FA.
“The only thing I say is that when the player goes to the national team, he belongs to the national team,” he said.
“I learned since I was a kid, if someone lends me something I have to take care even better than if it was mine. Since school, you know… your friend lent you a pencil, you have to take care of the pencil better than if it was your pencil.
“So I think one day if I become a national team manager, I will try — I am not saying that I will be successful on that, and I am not being critic with Gareth [Southgate] or anyone — but I think you have to build something to protect what is not yours, what someone lends you.”
Despite the claims that Rooney had socialised with guests at a hotel wedding until 5 a.m., Mourinho suggested he was not the only member of the squad to have been awake into the early hours.
“I would have a great answer for you, but I don’t want to have because I don’t want to speak about it,” he said.
“But if you go one by one, to see where these 23 players were, some of them were in worse places than the hotel bar.”