Wayne Rooney believes Jose Mourinho has helped Manchester United to reboot their winning mentality.
Rooney helped United to the last of their 20 English titles in Alex Ferguson’s final season at the helm in 2012-13, with the subsequent David Moyes and Louis van Gaal years jarringly barren by comparison.
Van Gaal did claim FA Cup glory as a swansong at the end of last season before making way for Mourinho and an indifferent start to the current campaign followed.
But United head into Saturday’s game against Watford with a 15-match unbeaten Premier League run to their name, as well as the EFL Cup final to follow against Southampton at Wembley later this month.
During this period, Rooney netted a last-minute equaliser at Stoke City to usurp Bobby Charlton as the club’s all-time record goalscorer and he feels the positive impact of Mourinho – a serial trophy winner with Porto, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter – is there for all to see.
“He’s obviously a top manager – all of the clubs he’s been at shows that,” the England captain told GQ.
“He knows what he wants from the players and the players know what the manager wants from them.
“He’s strong in that sense but as long as you’re doing what he wants, then I’m sure you’ll be fine.
“You can see he’s got a winning mentality. Not that we didn’t have that already, but he certainly reminded us of it.”
Along with the EFL Cup, United are still in the hunt for honours in the FA Cup and the Europa League.
Rooney believes the cups can provide a triumphant end to United’s season, with Champions League qualification also firmly within reach, even if the 14-point gap to runaway leaders Chelsea makes the Premier League title a bridge too far.
“I think it’s going okay,” he said when asked about the club’s efforts under Mourinho to date. “We’re in a good position in terms of making the top four.
“Obviously our ambition was to try and be champions, which will be difficult now. We know that.
“But we’re right there in terms of trying to place ourselves in the top four.
“We’re still in the Europa League, in the final of the League Cup and still in the FA Cup, so they’re trophies we believe we’ve got a strong enough squad to go and win.
“Then obviously now probably we have to look at trying to finish in the top four.”