Wayne Rooney: Career at Man United did not go ‘stale’ under Jose Mourinho

Wayne Rooney has denied that his Manchester United career went “stale” during his final season at Old Trafford, insisting that the only reason to end his 13-year stint at the club was to play regular football at Everton.

Rooney, 31, has completed a free transfer return to Goodison Park, having left his boyhood club for United as an 18-year-old in August 2004.

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During his time at Old Trafford, Rooney won every major club honour at least once and eclipsed Sir Bobby Charlton as United’s all-time leading goal scorer.

But despite lifting the EFL Cup and Europa League trophy as United captain last season, his first-team opportunities were limited under Jose Mourinho, with Rooney starting just 25 of the club’s 64 games in all competitions.

Speaking at a news conference at Goodison Park on Monday, though, Rooney claimed that his United career did not end on a low note.

“It hadn’t gone stale,” he said. “I needed to play more games and I just didn’t play often enough. I know I am at my best when I play regularly, so I spoke to Jose [Mourinho] and felt it was best to play somewhere else.

“It was frustrating not to play. I have played regularly all my career. It was the first time I hadn’t played and it’s not me — I want to play football.

“I was the captain of United, so you have to bring positivity to the place and the dressing room, but it was hard. I love playing football and that’s what I want to do.

“When it was clear that I would leave united, there were other options, of course, but once Ronald Koeman asked me to come back to Everton, there was only one place I wanted to come.”