Wayne Rooney has admitted he needs to adjust to no longer being a guaranteed starter after being fielded as a substitute once again by Manchester United in Monday night’s 0-0 draw at Liverpool.
It was the fourth consecutive fixture in which the England international failed to break into Jose Mourinho’s first 11, and the decorated striker was also named on the bench for his country’s World Cup qualifying stalemate with Slovenia last week.
Rooney is tackling an understandable mix of frustration and impatience as he contends with an unfamiliar situation, but he insisted he is far from finished.
When asked post-match at Anfield if there was vexation at not running out from the off regularly, he said: “Yeah, of course. You want to play. I just have to try and do my job for the team, and wait for my chance.
“I like to think I can play every game, but obviously, it's the manger’s decision and I respect that. I will be ready when I’m needed.
“I’m 31 next week, I’ve got a lot of football left.”
Rooney doesn’t consider his fight to force his way back into the starting XI for both club and country his greatest challenge, but feels it will require some adaptation.
“No [it’s not the biggest test]. I think it’s just football,” the five-time Premier League winner mused. “I’ve started through all my career, this is a new challenge, it is a new period.
“Of course I want to play - I just have to keep working and get into the team. I’m sure my chances will come, then it is up to me to take them.”
On United’s obstructive approach against Liverpool, Rooney felt his teammates executed Mourinho’s blueprint near perfectly to thwart the home side's full-throttle football.
“It was a game we didn't want to lose; we knew it, the manager knew it, but we also wanted to try and win the game,” he explained, while also noting it will "take time" to fully absorb the 53-year-old's tactics.
“We had a few chances and tried to get a goal, which we couldn’t, but we stuck to the gameplan well.
“Obviously, coming to Liverpool is always going to be a difficult game. We know that, and in the end, I think a draw was probably a fair result. To come away with a point is a positive result.
United is now unbeaten in its last five outings and, with a Europa League test at home to Fenerbahce approaching before a top-flight trip to Chelsea and a Manchester derby in the League Cup at Old Trafford, Rooney believes United can create “the start of something special” should the club stretch its streak.
“We’ve got some tough games coming up and I thought it was important to come away from home and not lose [at Liverpool] which we didn’t, " he said. "They had chances where they could have nicked it, so probably the right result. This was the toughest game before the Europa League on Thursday.
"Then we’ve got Chelsea and City. It is good for us to have those games in this period and if we can come out of them with positive results, it can be the start of something for us this season.”