Fans and media types have been waiting to write the United Are Back story for a few years now. Wayne Rooney thinks it’s finally time.
In a lengthy interview with The Daily Mail, Rooney took stock of his career and the past year or so in particular. He discussed England’s run at Euro 2016 this summer at length, offering his own touchline-level view of their run in the tournament and the shock 2-1 loss to Iceland. He then turned toward the upcoming season with United, saying that the new manager and raft of new signings is already having an impact in the dressing room.
”I think the players feel this is more like the old Manchester United. It’s not just the new signings, we’ve got Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford from last season who made such an impact. We’re in a very good spot now, we think we can challenge for the Premier League, and we want to put a marker down, in the Community Shield with Leicester. I know it’s a one-off game, but we want to show we can win a trophy early on — we feel that’s an important event for us.”
The new signings brought in for José Mourinho’s first season at Old Trafford include the one and only Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Eric Bailly. Former youth prospect Paul Pogba also looks set to return to his old club after spending four years at Juventus, during which time he established himself as one of the most talented— and most versatile— midfielders in Europe.
All this, says Rooney, is contributing to a renewed sense of vigor at United. While Rooney is somewhat obliged to talk up the team’s situation and gloss over any potential deficiencies— and certainly wouldn’t break the script ahead of his testimonial on Wednesday— his enthusiasm does seem genuine and warranted. If you’re a United fan, there’s plenty of reason for optimism this campaign. While it’s unclear whether Mourinho can fully recapture the magic from the Ferguson era, the Red Devils are inarguably more dangerous than at any time since the end of the 2012-13 championship campaign.
United face Everton on Wednesday in the Rooney testimonial at Old Trafford to finish off their preseason. They then travel to London this weekend to take on Leicester City in the Community Shield at Wembley.