Former Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney believes the players need to “stand up” and protect “easy target” Mourinho.

The former United man, who is now playing his football in the MLS with DC United, doesn’t think that the United manager should be shouldering all the blame for Manchester United’s poor start to the season.

United have already lost three of their eight Premier League matches this season and only escaped a fourth defeat against Newcastle on the weekend thanks to three second-half goals that saw them come from two behind to win at Old Trafford.

Mourinho made an inspired substitution in the second half by bringing on Alexis Sanchez with just over twenty minutes to go and it was the Chilean who bagged the decisive goal.

The United manager has been under increasing pressure which has been reflected in his mood during a number of his post-match press conferences this season. But despite the apparent witch hunt former United star Wayne Rooney believes the players need to do more to protect their manager.

“I know Jose is getting a load of stick but the players have to stand up, be counted and have to be better,” said Rooney in the Telegraph as reported by the BBC.

“Jose’s an easy target. The manager can do only so much but then it’s down to the players to produce.”

This is not the first time a United manager has faced such scrutiny in recent years, a point not lost on the former England captain.

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“I said the same thing when Louis van Gaal was there. He took a lot of stick but behind closed doors I said to the players ‘we have to be doing better’. I’m sure that’s getting said behind the scenes (now).”

“It’s a young team, and quite a lot of those players haven’t faced this pressure before and maybe haven’t got the senior players which I had there as a young player to help in those difficult moments.”

United have come unstuck against Brighton, West Ham and Tottenham already this season losing all three and conceding three-goal in each. They looked like they would be heading down the same familiar path on Saturday against Newcastle but for the second-half heroics.

After the international break United face a difficult trip to Mourinho’s former club Chelsea who are yet to lose in the Premier League this season.

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