Rooney accuses Man Utd players of feigning injuries to make FA Cup final, Euros – ‘100 per cent’

Jason Soutar
Wayne Rooney thinks Man Utd's 'injured' players might be protecting themselves
Wayne Rooney thinks Man Utd's 'injured' players might be protecting themselves

Wayne Rooney has accused Manchester United players of protecting themselves for the FA Cup final and this summer’s European Championships.

Erik ten Hag was without several players for the visit of Arsenal on Sunday, losing 1-0 thanks to Leandro Trossard’s 21st-minute goal.

Lisandro Martinez has not played for Manchester United since March 30 and was very eager to play against the Gunners, though the same can not be said for a few of his team-mates.

Bruno Fernandes was one of those unavailable due to injury. He could have made a difference against Mikel Arteta’s men and Rooney has suggested that certain players could have played on Sunday and are probably protecting themselves so they are fit for the FA Cup final against Manchester City and Euro 2024 this summer.

“There are some very good players in that squad and the performances are way below par,” Rooney said.

“As we look at the injuries they’ve picked up, some of them players can play. 100 per cent.”

Told that is a fairly big claim to make by Sky Sports host David Jones, Rooney continued: “It’s easy. You’ve got the European Championships coming up, you’ve got the FA Cup final coming up.

“Because they are getting a little bit of stick now, it’s easy for players to stay out for a little bit and come back towards the final and get themselves ready for the European Championships.

“You’ve seen it. I’ve seen it myself over the years.

“I think the players who have been injured, they’ve not filled themselves with any credit at the minute and the manager is going to take all the stick for that.”

👉 Man Utd, Ten Hag lose personal cup final as Arsenal reach uncharted territory in title race
👉 Sir Jim Ratcliffe is the pre-woke holier-than-thou headteacher creating division at Man Utd

Rooney’s fellow pundit and former Manchester United team-mate Roy Keane added that it is a worry not to see injured players “desperate” to return as soon as possible.

“It is not a good sign if players do not want to come back from injury and play,” Keane said. “You will always have those that are carrying injuries but you’d hope they would be desperate to get back playing football.

“There are always a few players at a club that drag their heels with injuries, but generally and thinking of players I played with, if you give them a length of time they’ll be out for, they will look to knock a week or two off that.

“Sometimes when it is a certain time of the season or players are lacking confidence they are not in a hurry to get back in the team.”

Injuries have forced Ten Hag to play Jonny Evans next to Casemiro in centre-back and Rooney has stated the obvious by saying the plan to have the latter in defence has not gone to plan.

“I don’t think the Casemiro experiment in defence has worked,” he added. But who else have United got to put in? They’ve got so many players injured, centre backs, midfielders, strikers, so many players unavailable.

“Players get injuries but as a manager you need to be ruthless and take that option away from them. Unless you have a bad injury you have to want to be on the pitch and to me that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

Rooney added that Manchester United look like “a team of individuals” after failing to test Arsenal’s strong defensive structure.

“With Manchester United they are so open at times it is incredible. The space and the chances they are giving away is incredible.Any player in that defence I feel sorry for because it is such a difficult position to play in within that side.

“The team looks disjointed. It is a team of individuals, and that is a concern. You look even at the middle and bottom end of the table and there is a togetherness and compactness to them.”

More: Man Utd | Man Utd 0-1 Arsenal match report | Man Utd-Arsenal combined XI