Former United centre-back and Reading boss Jaap Stam hails "outstanding" Wayne Rooney after FA Cup defeat

Former United centre-back and Reading boss Jaap Stam hails "outstanding" Wayne Rooney after FA Cup defeat

Reading manager and former Manchester United centre-back Jaap Stam hailed Red Devils captain Wayne Rooney as "outstanding" after he matched the club's leading goalscorer Sir Bobby Charlton on 249 with an effort in their 4-0 win over the Royals in the FA Cup.

Charlie Malam

Reading boss Jaap Stam hailed the "outstanding" Wayne Rooney after the Manchester United striker matched the 44-year scoring record of Sir Bobby Charlton and downed his side 4-0 in the FA Cup third round.

Stam, a crucial part of Sir Alex Ferguson's immensely successful United side between 1998 and 2001, made his competitive first return to Old Trafford - but saw his Championship outfit comprehensively beaten.

Rooney scored within 10 minutes, connecting with Juan Mata's chipped cross into the box for his 249th goal for the club to match Charlton as the club's all-time leading goalscorer, before Anthony Martial doubled the Red Devils' lead shortly after.

Jose Mourinho's men were comfortable throughout and finally put the tie to bed, subsequently sealing their place in the next round of the competition, thanks to Marcus Rashford's late brace.

That helped current FA Cup holders United to extend their winning streak to eight games in all competitions, with the first-leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against Hull City and a huge Premier League clash with Liverpool to come next week.

Reading manager: It's difficult to understand the doubts about 'quality player' Rooney

Asked about 31-year-old Rooney in his post-match press conference, former Red Devils centre-back Stam - who earned an excellent reception from the home crowd - said: "Wayne has been a great player from the beginning, when he arrived here.

"He's a player who works very hard for the team, I think you saw that today again as well. With the work rate that he has, and the quality that he has as an individual player and playing together with quality players, makes him an outstanding player.

"It's not a surprise that he scores many goals. You can see in a game like this, even when they're 4-0 up, he's sprinting and running.

"It's quite difficult that a lot of people doubt him and what he can bring to the team. He is a quality player, there's nothing more to say about that.

Mourinho's qualities showing through now, suggests Stam

With United in such fine form having initially struggled under Mourinho, Stam - who won the FA Cup, Champions League, Premier League and Intercontinental Cup at United - believes they are benefitting from the quality of the Portuguese manager's coaching.

He continued: "If you look at them in how they play, they've got a certain mentality within the team, within the group now.

"Of course if you start winning games, the belief gets bigger within the squad and within the individuals. He [Mourinho] has proved that he's the type of manager in the past that stands for his group, gives them the confidence, knows how to play and what they need to do and bring to the team to get results.

"Eventually, he gets them, by of course bringing players into that squad as well. I think he can spend a couple of pounds which makes it nice as well for a manager to [be able] do that.

"I think one of his qualities, and if you look at Van Gaal when he was over here - which I still think he's a great manager - he tried to play in a certain way as well.

"It's not much different in how they play now, in the movement that they have on the ball and the possession that they want to play in going forward, but it's also in a manager in what you can give yourself to the team and how you can make players better and give players a certain belief and a confidence that they're willing to perform for you and perform together. That's one of his [Mourinho's] many qualities."

Stam: United made it very hard for us

Given the manner in which his side were so easily swept aside, Stam acknowledged the gulf in class between the two teams - although believes his Reading squad can learn from the experience.

The Dutchman explained: "If you get the opportunity to play against a side like this, with the qualities that they have, they're in the top of the Premier League and are a top team in Europe as well, it's quite a big difference between the two teams.

"It's good for the players if you play against a side like this. You need to be aggressive, you need to be very sharp. You know how they're going to start the game.

"United have got the pace, the quality, if you give them time on the ball - especially the first 20 minutes, they had that - they make it very difficult and very hard for you.

"Of course I hate losing, even against a side like United. But the thing is what the players do with it.

"It's what the squad does with it now, how you improve yourself to do better and make it harder for a team like this if you play against them again." 

He always acknowledged the reception he received from the supporters, declaring it "always nice" to hear his name sung by the United fans.

"Sometimes you need to slow it down a bit because I can't reach my players on the pitch," he joked, before saying: "No but it is great and it's always been great. It's been a very important time for myself and my family, over here as well.

I've enjoyed it, I've won trophies, they've given me the chance to develop as a player and not only as a player on the pitch but as a person outside of the pitch and what you need to bring and how you need to act in life. To get a reception like this is marvellous.