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Manchester-Uniteds-Wayne-Rooney-lifts-the-trophy-to-celebrate-winning.jpg

Rooney feels United’s trophy double last season were hollow victories as he barely played

Date Posted,July 10, 2017

It is the crowning moment for any captain – but for Wayne Rooney it was the worst part of his decline at Manchester United.

As Rooney held aloft the EFL Cup and the ­Europa League ­trophies, he knew he wasn’t really part of these successes. The proud Rooney was an unused substitute against ­Southampton at Wembley in February, and came on in the 89th minute of the May victory over Ajax.

On Monday, he lifted the lid on his frustrations at United and is glad to feel wanted again at his beloved Everton .

“The hardest thing was lifting the League Cup and the Europa League,” he said at his unveiling as a Blues player once more. “You don’t feel like you deserve it because you haven’t been part of the game.

Captain Rooney lifted the trophy but was an unused sub against Southampton… (Image: Action Images via Reuters)
Wayne Rooney and team mates celebrate with the trophy
…in May, he was only sent on as the 2-0 win over Ajax headed into stoppage time (Image: Reuters)

“You’re naturally happy ­because you have won, but you don’t celebrate it as much as if you were on the pitch. It was frustrating. That was the first time where I didn’t play every game. Some people will accept not playing or playing every few weeks. I have to play.”

Looking back, Rooney feels ­United’s 3-1 loss at Watford on September 18 was the ­beginning of the end for him. New manager Jose Mourinho axed him after he had started the first five Premier League games, and he never won back his place.

“I started the season doing OK, I did well,” he said. “I had a bad game at Watford and that was it. He changed the system a bit and the lads who came in did well. He stuck with that.

Wayne Rooney looks dejected after Troy Deeney scores
After starting the first five league games for Mourinho, Rooney’s stinker at Watford signalled the end (Image: Reuters)

“I respect him as a person, as a manager. But I knew I also have to make decisions for my career. It was around about ­November when I decided I had to leave. I spoke to Jose in ­January and he always said he wanted me to stay to help the team until the end of the season.

“Obviously it was a sad ­moment because I had been at the club for 13 years, but I had to think of my career.”

Rooney, 31, intends to make it impossible for Ronald ­Koeman to drop him at Everton and he is enjoying his football again.

“I need to play,” he said after his first training session yesterday with his new team-mates. “I know I’m at my best when I play. I’m hoping I don’t give Ronald any chance to leave me out of the team.”

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Returning home to Everton has been like flicking a switch for Rooney, and he instinctively ­referred to the Blues as “we”.

No prizes for guessing then which game he is looking ­forward to most.

“The Liverpool game,” he laughed. “That was one of my biggest regrets when I left ­Everton, not scoring in the derby. I came on in my first one and I hit the crossbar.

“To score against them for Everton would be great.”

Rooney’s first trip with his new/old club is to Tanzania in south-eastern Africa to face the SportPesa Super Cup winners, Kenyan side Gor Mahia, on Thursday.

SportPesa are Everton’s new sponsors and Rooney said: “It’ll be good to spend some time with the players and get to know them more.”

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