England and Manchester United’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney joined Drivetime live from America on Thursday.
He began by discussing his life in the States playing for DC United, revealing he is relishing playing as a number nine again.
He went on to speak of his disappointment surrounding the end of his second spell at Everton, revealed his biggest career ‘regret’, and gave his thoughts on the Premier League title race, admitting it would be a ‘nightmare’ for him if Liverpool won it.
Plus, he had praise for Raheem Sterling, explained why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must be made permanent Manchester United boss and expressed his desire to follow former international teammates Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard to enter management.
Rooney has impressed since joining MLS side DC United in 2018 Here’s some of the highlights from the exclusive interview with Wayne Rooney…
On life in Major League Soccer
“It is a new challenge for me, new league, new country to live in but it has been good. My family have settled in really well. We are enjoying it. It has been going well for us on the pitch as well.
“I am really enjoying [playing up top]. I had two full seasons with Manchester United playing as a number nine and they were my best scoring years. I know my role is not to come deep and try and get on the ball and make things happen, it is to stay as a striker and wait for chances and try to take them. We have had a good start and it is going well.”
On leaving Everton for DC United in 2018
“My only regret was my last year at Everton. I started off playing as a striker and then the team wasn’t doing well and almost through my own fault speaking with the manager, we both felt it would be better if I went into a midfield role and tried to help us get control of games when really I should have turned round and said ‘no, I want to be up top scoring goals’ which I did in the first half of the season.
“It was a disappointing end to my time back there. It was a difficult couple of months to go through, but that is football. The departure from Everton led to a new opportunity over here. I have no regrets over coming to MLS, I was just disappointed with the way it ended at Everton.”
Rooney’s second spell at Everton ended prematurely On Raheem Sterling and Pep Guardiola’s influence
“Raheem is a great person. At times he got a lot of stick which was baffling for us as players as to why that was happening. He will be up for Player of the Year for sure this season, he is doing fantastic.
“You have got to give Pep Guardiola a lot of credit. Raheem has always had the talent and the ability but the one thing he has improved on massively is his knowledge of the game and tactically he is a lot better since working with Pep Guardiola. He is doing fantastic so I am really pleased for him.”
On the current England set-up under Gareth Southgate
“Gareth has done a fantastic job. When I was with England for the USA game, I was watching Gareth and in particular Steve Holland and how they working with players and how they change the tactics. Steve Holland deserves a lot of credit because tactically he is very good and him and Gareth work really well together.
“I remember after Euro 2016 saying the future is bright with these players but I didn’t expect them to do as well and go as far as they did at the World Cup, which is a great credit to them.”
On why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be permanent Man United manager
“He has gone in with simplicity and has brought belief back to the fans. He has made the place enjoyable again to go into work every day. The staff around Carrington are enjoying working there again and that does rub off.
“When you see the staff happy around the players, it makes it a happy environment to work in.
“He is doing a fantastic job and I’m sure he is the only candidate for Manchester United to take that job and it will be great to see him get it and bring some of the players he wants to bring in and keep moving the club forward.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been a huge success as interim Man United boss On Sir Alex Ferguson’s influence at Man United
“For Ole, it is very important. Ole obviously played under him for a long time and knowing how Alex Ferguson is, it wouldn’t surprise me if he is on the phone to him every day.
“It is important for Ole to get that help and that guidance through Sir Alex and also Mike Phelan, who is sat alongside him.”
On Marcus Rashford being ‘world class’
“He has got a bit of everything. He is quick, he is strong. The only thing he could probably work on is his heading.
“He is fantastic. He has got so much ability and it is great to see him doing so well. For Manchester United and England, he has certainly got a bright future.”
On who he wants to win the Premier League – Liverpool or Man City
“It’s a great reason to be out the country when those two are going head-to-head for the title!
“I hope Man City get over the line before Liverpool. I couldn’t bear to see them win it, it would be a nightmare for any Evertonian.
“I remember in 2005 they won the Champions League and they’re still talking about it now so it would be another 10 or 15 years of that if they win the title!”
Rooney would rather Man City lift the title than Liverpool On what boyhood club Everton must do
“Everton fans want success, they want Everton to win trophies, to compete for league titles but it is going to take time and it is not always all about going out and bringing these £30million, £40million players every season and if it doesn’t work, changing them.
“They really need to focus on building the squad, building the team and also giving the manager a bit of time to do that. The last few years changing the manager every so often doesn’t help anyone at the club.
“Hopefully Marco Silva gets a bit of time where he can build something and then we might start seeing Everton compete for them Champions League places and then hopefully compete for the title.”
On his managerial ambitions
“It is something I want to do and am passionate about. It is what I know.
“It would be a shame to have the career I have had as a player and not to try and take that knowledge and experience into management and give it a go. That is what I want to do.
“The plan for the next few years why I’m still playing is to try and get my badges complete and put myself in a position when I do finish playing where I can take an opportunity if it does come up.
“It is something I will certainly have a go at and hopefully I can be successful at it.”
On being coached by Louis van Gaal
“It didn’t work for David Moyes and they [Manchester United] then went for the experience of Louis van Gaal.
“He was tactically one of the best I have worked with, in terms of setting you up in a shape defensively and everyone knowing their roles.
“It was just about getting the attacking side right as well as the defensive side.
“He won a few trophies but it didn’t pan out the way everyone would have hoped.”