Wayne Rooney has launched a scathing assault on Manchester United’s under-performing players and told them to get their priorities straight.
United missed out on Champions League qualification for the third time in six seasons after finishing sixth in the Premier League, 32 points adrift of champions Manchester City.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is preparing to overhaul the squad this summer and has already written off a title challenge next season after admitting the club faces a huge rebuilding job.
And Rooney has claimed too many of Solskjaer’s squad seem more concerned about their social media profiles than delivering on the pitch as warned them to stop hiding behind their agents and PRs.
“The way the game has gone has changed – society has changed,” said Rooney, United’s all-time top scorer with 253 goals in 559 appearances over a 13-year period during which time he won five Premier League titles and the Champions League.
“You’ve got social media. You’ve got players losing a game and then posting something on social media about their new clothing range or aftershave, whatever they are bringing out, which I find remarkable.
“So, when fans speak up on it and say, ‘Why are you posting that?’, they always have the marketing people to blame. Take responsibility. They work for you. Them marketing people work for you.
“I have people who do similar stuff for me and they would never do anything without my instructions. If that’s what you’re doing, you’re sitting at the top of that business, you have to take responsibility for that.
“These players almost like to find someone to hide behind, whether that’s on the social media or on the pitch and that’s what they’re doing.”
Solskjaer is looking to bring in as many as five players while more than a half a dozen could leave and Rooney, who now plays for DC United in America’s MLS, said the Norwegian has to become a feared presence if United are to get back on top.
United’s squad have reportedly been told to return to pre-season training as early as July 1 as Solskjaer and Mike Phelan, alarmed by the players’ poor fitness levels, seek to put them through their paces.
“To watch United struggle is always tough,” said Rooney, who was speaking on his own podcast. “When Ole came in, he did a fantastic job and you could see the players were given that bit of freedom and you could see they loved it and they earned the right to win games with how they were playing.
“But then all of a sudden, I don’t know whether it’s players being linked to other teams or players down tooling.
“I don’t think it is that, but for some reason, they just didn’t perform the last seven, eight games of the season, which has cost them.
“I think the players need to fear someone. They need to fear Ole, they need to fear Michael Carrick – they need to respect them but fear them also.”