Wayne Rooney denies that his time at Manchester United was becoming “stale” but said it was the right time to leave Old Trafford to re-join Everton.
The 31-year-old won five Premier League titles, three League Cups, the FA Cup, Europa League and a Champions League crown during a 13-year spell at United where he also became the club’s leading goalscorer last season.
However, he found his playing time restricted under Jose Mourinho last term, starting just 15 Premier League games, and, as he faced the media on Monday for the first time since re-joining his boyhood club, Rooney said it was the right time to leave United.
“It hadn’t gone stale, I enjoyed my time there, of course, but I needed to play more games and I didn’t play that often last season,” he said.
“I know I’m at my best when I’m playing games consistently. I spoke with Jose and it was the right time for me to leave and go play somewhere else and I firmly believe that Everton is the right club for me to do that.
“There were other options but once I knew that Ronald wanted to bring me back to the club it was the only place I was going to be playing my football.”
Rooney admitted he found it tough last season as he spent a lot of time on the bench for United as they finished sixth in the Premier League but won the Europa League and League Cup.
“It was obviously frustrating; I’ve played my whole career. It was the first time in my career where I didn’t play and I was on the bench,” he said.
“It’s not me – I need to play, I want to play football, and when I wasn’t playing it was frustrating but I was captain of Manchester United and I had to keep myself positive around the place and try make sure you don’t bring negativity to the dressing room.
“It was tough, obviously not playing, but that’s football. Some people will accept not playing and playing every few weeks but for me, I love playing football and that’s what I want to do.”
Rooney will encounter his former team-mates for the first time when Everton travel to United on September 17 but he says he is more concerned about winning rather than his return.
“I’m going to Old Trafford to try to win three points with Everton,” he said. “Football moves on, players move on, I’ve come back to Everton. The fixtures are tough, we need to get the pre-season right.”
The England captain was left out of Gareth Southgate’s squad for the matches against Scotland and France last month but is hoping his return to Goodison Park will bring the best out of him and force an international recall.
“To be honest I’m not focused on it, I’m focused on Everton, getting back playing and doing well for Everton,” he said.
“If I do that then Gareth Southgate will have a decision to make, whether he puts me back in the squad or not. Hopefully, my performances are good enough for Everton and I’m sure he won’t be able to ignore me if they are.”Soccer Accumulator Bonus
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