LONDON • Jose Mourinho compounded a difficult week for Wayne Rooney by revealing that he dropped the Manchester United captain for the 1-1 draw against Arsenal because he felt the forward was too slow.
Rooney played well on his recall against Swansea City before the international break, but the 31-year-old had to be content with only a 27-minute appearance as a substitute in Saturday's draw, which kept United in sixth position, nine points off the summit of the Premier League.
The reason for dropping Rooney, Mourinho said, was not because of his controversial drinking while on international duty.
The Portuguese revealed that the forward was not selected because he was not deemed fast enough to trouble Arsenal.
"I thought we were going to have the ball," Mourinho said when asked why Rooney had been dropped.
"Arsenal are a team who let the opponents play. I thought we would have space and the ball would arrive quite easily to the attacking players.
"I believed ones like (Juan) Mata, (Anthony) Martial and (Marcus) Rashford were faster than Wayne, better attacking opponents one to one in the last line. I thought it was the best option."
Mourinho's words will not make comfortable reading for Rooney, who was previously accustomed to utilising his pace to torment opposition defences.
One player who has impressed the manager is Michael Carrick, who has been urged by Mourinho to extend his contract.
Carrick, who is out of contract next summer and turns 36 in July, recently admitted that his 11th season at Old Trafford could be his last.
But Mourinho believes that the former Tottenham Hotspur player can play on for another year, even though there were signs on Saturday that age is catching up with him, when he suffered cramp towards the end of the game.
"It is very sad to know that time flies for every one of us," Mourinho said.
"He is such a fantastic player and it is a pity. I always loved him, but instead of being his manager when he was 25 I am his manager when he is 35.
"We have a good understanding. We know when he can play. We know when he is ready and when he needs a rest. I am still having Michael Carrick and probably for one more season. That's life."
THE TIMES, LONDON