Jose Mourinho says Wayne Rooney returned from England duty damaged by what the Manchester United manager believes was over the top criticism.
In the public eye since bursting onto the scene when a teenager, a lot has changed in that journey from precocious talent to record-breaking 30-year-old captain of club and country.
Despite being the subject of scrutiny for so long, Rooney’s place in the both sides, never mind position, has rarely been so fiercely debated.
The United captain this week said he ignores most of the “rubbish” about him, but Mourinho thinks some of the talk has impacted his form since returning from England’s unconvincing start to life under Sam Allardyce.
Rooney failed to impress in this month’s late 1-0 win against Slovakia, after which Allardyce curiously suggested that he had deferred to his skipper over where he played, even expressing surprise at how deep he dropped.
Questions over his role and capabilities have continued since returning to United, with Mourinho noticing a marked change.
“Honestly, I think there was a Wayne before the Slovakia-England and a Wayne after the Slovakia-England,” he said. “And I am not blaming Sam, not at all.
“I am blaming the people that after the England-Slovakia was, in my opinion, too strong with somebody that is a very important player in the history of English football, is the captain of England, is the record of goals, is almost the record of matches.
“I think it was too much but I still think, that a big boy like he is, he has to face it in a strong way.”