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05th Apr 2022

Wayne Rooney says gap between Man United first team and academy was ‘huge’ under Jose Mourinho

Simon Lloyd

wayne rooney

‘It’s almost like there was a divorce between the first team and the academy’

Wayne Rooney has said that the distance between the Manchester United first team and academy was “huge” during Jose Mourinho’s time as manager at Old Trafford.

The Derby County boss was appearing on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football and was asked by Jamie Carragher about why Mourinho and his predecessor Louis van Gaal had failed to succeed during their time at the club.

While the former United captain said that the players were able to adjust to the differing demands of both managers, this was not the case with other members of staff and the academy.

rooney mourinho academy

Rooney says gap between youngsters and first team ‘huge’ under Mourinho

“The distance between the academy and the first team and the manager, especially under Mourinho, was huge,” Rooney said. “It was almost as if they didn’t exist, if you like.

“Having the relationship they had with Sir Alex [Ferguson] for 26 years and then not being allowed anywhere near the first team… It’s almost like there was a divorce between the first team and the academy.”

United’s academy system flourished under Ferguson, who was able to promote a raft of talented youngsters into his first team during his time in charge of the club – most famously the Class of 92.

Van Gaal, who took over after David Moyes’ disastrous 10-month spell as manager, handed debuts to 15 United youngsters during his two seasons in charge – including Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard.

Mourinho lasted slightly longer in the job than Van Gaal but only gave debuts to six United youngsters, with Scott McTominay being the most notable.

Rooney on Ronaldo return

Earlier in the show, Rooney have an honest assessment of his former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to United, admitting it could not be viewed as a success at this moment in time.

“You’d have to say no, at the minute,” Rooney said on Monday Night Football on Sky Sports when asked if he believes Ronaldo has succeeded at Man United in his second spell.

“He scored important goals in the Champions League early on in the season, he scored the hat-trick against Tottenham. But, I think if you’re looking at the future of the club, you would have to go with younger, hungry players to lift Manchester United over these next two or years.

“Obviously, Cristiano is getting on a bit. He certainly isn’t the player was when he was in his 20s, and that happens, that’s football. He’s a goal threat, but I think the rest of the game, they need more. They need young, hungry players.”

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