West Ham boss Slaven Bilic: Wayne Rooney’s achievements at Manchester United and England are amazing
PUBLISHED: 11:00 26 November 2016
PA Wire/PA Images
Hammers manager hails career of England captain and all-time leading goalscorer, though knows recent criticism will hurt 31-year-old
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic paid tribute to Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney ahead of their Premier League clash at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Rooney netted the 248th goal of his United career in their Europa League win over Feyenoord to leave him on the brink of equalling Sir Bobby Charlton’s club record.
And the Hammers will be determined to avoid conceding such an historic goal this weekend, with Bilic saying: “It’s unbelievable. Everything he’s done in his career is amazing. To keep breaking records, for Man United and his country. We’re not talking about some countries, we’re talking about England and Man United, probably the most successful, biggest club in the country.
“To break the records there, it doesn’t happen every year or generation. To take over Bobby Charlton is amazing. I can see him still playing for 10 years. It’s going to be very difficult for someone else when they start to play, to do what he has done.”
Rooney, who is also England’s all-time leading goalscorer since passing Charlton’s mark of 49, came in for criticism recently, after being photographed at a wedding reception while on national duty.
But Bilic believes the 31-year-old has learned how to cope with being under such close scrutiny, having played in the Premier League since the age of 16 with Everton.
“If you are closest to the sun it can be hot, but also very windy up there,” added Bilic.
“When you are such an extremely good player, basically the best player and captain of Manchester United and England, when you play good, have a good run or good game, he gets the biggest praise.
“But if it’s not like that, he gets the biggest slaughter, there’s nothing inbetween. I think he’s got used to it, but no matter who much you get used to it, you’re still human and it still hurts.”
Jose Mourinho’s United have drawn their last three home matches in the Premier League, against Stoke, Burnley and, most recently, Arsenal.
They find themselves in sixth place, six points off a Champions League spot and nine behind leaders Chelsea.
But Bilic believes they can still force their way into the title race this term and is under no illusions as to how difficult this weekend’s contest is going to be for his side.
He added: “There’s still enough time to catch up. The gap is not small, but it’s not big that they can’t make it until the end of the season.
“They are Man United, they need points in the Premier League and it’s going to be very difficult.
“It’s a big game for them, big game for us, in a great stadium. Of course, it’s going to be difficult, but you can’t expect anything less in Premier League games, especially Man United away.”
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