‘Wayne Rooney’s winning mentality rubs off on whole Man United squad’
Manchester United's Chris Smalling believes Wayne Rooney's winning mentality has an effect on the whole Red Devils squad
Chris Smalling has described Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney as a “born winner” ahead of their Champions League clash against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.
The England international scored the opening goal in a 2-2 draw with Cardiff City on Sunday but caused controversy after lashing out at Jordon Mutch in the first half.
Rooney has scored five goals in nine Premier League appearances this season after finding his best form following two bids from Chelsea during the summer transfer window.
And United defender Smalling says Rooney’s winning mentality has an effect on the whole Red Devils squad.
“Wayne is a top player and he trains how he plays,” Smalling said. “What you see on a Saturday afternoon is what we face every day in training.”
“You can see the hunger and passion he has when he plays, and that breeds through the changing room before games, at half-time and at full-time,” Smalling added.
“He’s just a born winner and that has an effect on the whole squad”.
Match-facts: Bayer Leverkusen v Man United
• Leverkusen overcame United on away goals when the clubs met for the first time in the 2001/02 semi-finals.
• Ryan Giggs is the only survivor in either squad of that 2002 meeting in Germany while Phil Neville, now United’s first-team coach, was an unused substitute. Dimitar Berbatov, a future United player, featured for Leverkusen.
• United avenged that defeat by beating Leverkusen home and away in the 2002/03 first group stage.
• Leverkusen have responded well since losing 4-2 at Old Trafford on matchday one, picking up seven points from their three games since.