Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho held his first press conference on Tuesday since his arrival at Old Trafford, and discussed plans for Wayne Rooney.
The 30-year-old was deployed in a deeper midfield role for United at the end of last season, and was picked by Roy Hodgson to do the same for England at Euro 2016 this summer.
While there were positive signs that he could carry out the role well, it doesn’t appear as though Mourinho has plans to play him there next season.
The Portuguese tactician was discussing various topics with the media as he begins work at Old Trafford this week, and Rooney’s future position was on the agenda.
“In football there are many jobs on the field,” he told the media, as noted by the club’s official website. “The one that is more difficult to find is the one who puts the ball in the net. Players change their characteristics with age, so its normal that they change a little bit. But the natural appetite to put the ball in the net never changes.
“Maybe he is not a No.9 anymore but he will never, with me, be a No.6. He will never be 50 metres from the goal. For me he will be a No.9 or a No.10 or a No.9.5, but with me he will never be a No.6 or a even No.8.”
Mourinho has already signed Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic this summer, and he is expected to make more new signings ahead of his first campaign in charge.
Based on his comments about Rooney, perhaps he is plotting a midfield reinforcement in the coming weeks, which in turn will allow the United star to continue to play in the final third and look to have an impact on the team’s attacking play.
That in turn also suggests that Mourinho will rely on an Ibrahimovic-Rooney combination to be the focal points of his attack, and it promises to be an intriguing and potentially very exciting year at United.