Wayne Rooney feels Manchester United were wrong to sack Louis van Gaal in 2016 after two years at the Old Trafford helm.

Van Gaal was axed in favour of Jose Mourinho shortly after winning the FA Cup, with United having finished outside of the top four in the Premier League.

Under Mourinho, United finished sixth in the final 2016-17 Premier League standings but won both the EFL Cup and Europa League.

Yet Rooney, who was United's captain at the time, insists the club should have given Van Gaal another year to prove he could be a success.

"I was devastated when Louis was sacked," Rooney said in the book 'LVG - The Manager and the Total Person'.

“For me, it was an absolute joy to work with him.

“We should have kept him for a third season. We would have been so much stronger.

"I felt things were improving and players started to understand his vision. In those two years I learned more than under any other manager.

"This is why I will be forever grateful to him. Not just for making me captain, but also for all the trust and belief he had in me.

"We didn't have the best team in the league anyway, but we could not afford to have 12 players injured.

"Our best XI was good enough to play in the top four, but once we got injuries we got in trouble ­because we did not have the same quality in the squad as in the years before.

"At the time it was good for me because I had decided that I wanted to become a manager.

“And working with Louis in that way was priceless in my opinion because I could learn so much from him. I could not have wished for a better example."

Ravel Morrison was better than Paul Pogba "by a country mile" but lacked the work ethic to make the grade at Manchester United, according to Wayne Rooney.

Morrison and Pogba each joined the United academy in 2009, yet they have experienced contrasting fortunes.

While Pogba starred for Juventus before returning to United and has won the World Cup, Morrison has failed to live up to his potential in a career that has taken him to Italy, Mexico and Sweden.

Morrison in January joined Championship side Middlesbrough on loan from Sheffield United for the remainder of the season, which is on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

United legend Rooney, now at Derby County, believes it could have been a different story for Morrison had he possessed the commitment of Gary Neville.

Rooney wrote in his Sunday Times column: "I remember watching Ravel Morrison thinking he had everything required for a player in his position.

"He nutmegged Nemanja Vidic three times in the space of a minute in one training game. 

"But he struggled with lifestyle and his environment which was sad for him - because I saw Paul Pogba come through, Jesse Lingard, all these players and Ravel was better than any of them by a country mile.

"He's proof that you can't escape the fact there are guidelines every player has to obey in professional football. 

"Then you think how far you can go by being ultra-professional. Gary Neville, for instance. Gary's not a great football player but he worked in every minute of every training session and made the most of everything he had. 

"Sir Alex Ferguson used to say the hardest thing in life is to work hard every day. Forget all your ability, strip everything back: if you can work hard every day, in whatever job you do you'll be successful." 

 

Wayne Rooney believes Lionel Messi is a cut above the "incredible" Cristiano Ronaldo because the Barcelona superstar "will torture you before he kills you."

Rooney and Ronaldo tormented defences during time as team-mates in an outstanding Manchester United side before the Portugal forward joined Real Madrid in 2009.

Ronaldo and Messi have won the Ballon d'Or an astonishing 11 times between them, with Luka Modric the only other player to land the award since 2007.

Former England captain Rooney considers Messi, winner of the Ballon d'Or on six occasions, to be the best on the planet.

The Derby County skipper wrote in his Sunday Times column: "Ronaldo wasn't as focused on goals when we started playing together but you could see that all he wanted was to be the best player in the world.

"He practised and practised and began to produce. Cristiano has become an incredible scorer and he and Messi are arguably the best two players the game has seen.

"But despite my friendship with Cristiano, I'd go for Messi. It's for the same reason I loved watching Xavi and [Paul] Scholes: it's the different things in Messi's game.

"I've talked about composure and I can't remember seeing Messi score when he has hit the ball as hard as he could. He just rolls them in, makes it so easy.

"Ronaldo is ruthless in the box, a killer. But Messi will torture you before he kills you. With Messi you just get the impression he is having more fun.

"Those two have completely changed the game in terms of goalscoring numbers and I don't think they'll ever be matched."

Wayne Rooney says he has never been a natural finisher and fully expects Harry Kane to beat his record for the most England goals.

Throughout a trophy-laden career, Rooney has surpassed Bobby Charlton's benchmarks as the leading scorer for Manchester United and England.

Rooney struck 253 times in 559 appearances for the Red Devils and celebrated 53 goals in 120 England caps.

However, Rooney feels he should have scored more in his career and tipped Tottenham striker Kane – who has a superb 32 goals in 45 England games – to beat his international haul for the Three Lions.

"I'm going to be honest - and this might surprise you - but I'm not a natural goalscorer," Rooney wrote in his Sunday Times column.

"I hold the goal records for Manchester United and England and am very proud about that - yet there have been better number nines than me.

"How did I become a record-breaker if I wasn't a natural scorer? Time. I played for United for 13 years, England for 15 years. I had time to break those records - and looking back I should have scored more.

"I don't think it will take long for Harry Kane to claim my England record and it would be a proud moment for me.

"I've never been a selfish player and it would be great for England for Harry to get there. Bobby Charlton had to wait 50 years [for me to break his England record] - I hope it's not so long for me.

"The United record might last longer simply because players don't stay at clubs as long as they used to.

"Mind you, if [Lionel] Messi or [Cristiano] Ronaldo came to Old Trafford for a swansong they'd probably break it in three or four years!"

Rooney, now a player-coach with Championship side Derby County, won 12 major honours during his time with United.

He departed Old Trafford to return to Everton for the 2017-18 season and had a spell at DC United in MLS before joining Derby. 

Frank Lampard said politicians "jumped the gun" by calling for footballers to act in the national interest over the coronavirus pandemic, claiming his Chelsea players were among those already preparing to play their part.

The United Kingdom's health secretary Matt Hancock used a national press briefing to urge elite footballers in England to take a pay cut, and since then Premier League players have announced the creation of a charity fund to help health services in the fight against COVID-19.

Wayne Rooney, Gary Neville and Gary Lineker all hit back at the government's decision to single out footballers in the debate over salary reductions, and Lampard echoed their comments while praising the response to the pandemic at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea agreed to let the National Health Service use the club's Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge to accommodate staff, and Lampard told Sky Sports News: "I was very proud to be manager of this club with the way Chelsea handled it. They were very quick to respond to help with the hotel.

"There's a lot more work they've been doing with the foundation, with link-ups, getting in touch with fans, with putting on tutorials from some of the academy coaches. There are a lot of people at Chelsea who have stood up with some good work.

"I think they needed some time and I think the politicians jumped the gun while things were being prepared. People behind the scenes knew that and it's unfortunate that picture got painted.

"Since then a lot of players and clubs have stood up in a good way generally. Knowing the players and how they think, that's been a very good reaction. And it's ongoing and it shouldn't stop. I think that reaction needs to continue. If there's a light at the end of this tunnel, if there are things we can all learn, it's how we give back and stick together."

Lampard also paid tribute to former Chelsea goalkeeper Peter Bonetti, who died on Sunday following a long-term illness.

Bonetti made 729 appearances for the Blues, winning the FA Cup, the European Cup Winners' Cup, and the League Cup.

Lampard said: "My memory is of watching him as a player, but also memories of meeting him and what a gentleman he was. He was working in hospitality at Chelsea when I first arrived, working upstairs.

"[He was] so friendly with everyone that came to the game. Had time for everybody, absolute gentleman and a huge loss to Chelsea and to football."

Barcelona star Lionel Messi is "a global example" when it comes to the debate over footballers and pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a sports psychologist.

Messi issued a statement on behalf of the Barca first team on March 30 to confirm that the players had agreed to a 70 per cent reduction in wages to help to ease the financial burden on the club while football is largely at a standstill.

The players are also making further financial contributions to ensure Barca's non-playing employees can take home their full wages while LaLiga remains suspended during Spain's nationwide lockdown.

Atletico Madrid announced last week that their players would be taking a similar pay reduction.

The decisions from two of Spain's top clubs encouraged debate over the practices of the Premier League elite, whose players are yet to announce any definitive agreement on wage reductions or financial contributions towards frontline health systems.

Tom Bates believes Messi and Barca's example will help to encourage other clubs to follow suit while the COVID-19 crisis persists.

"The players that I have spoken with from the Premier League all the way through, they have different perspectives, naturally," he told Stats Perform.

"One of the things that the guys have said is, 'Well, actually at our club we are quite a wealthy club, so we could probably afford to keep our staff paid, but other clubs in different leagues won't be able to do that'. Others feel like taking a pay cut to keep their staff on board is absolutely fine.

"The classic case is Leo Messi, who started this and was one of the first players to take a 70 per cent pay cut in order to make sure the staff at Barcelona were able to carry on working, and I think that really is a global example to everybody when you're talking about that level in money in wages, and that type of athlete.

"I am very privileged: I have met Leo Messi and [Pep] Guardiola over there in Barcelona together as a team, and it doesn't surprise me that they are leading the way with this.

"If there was going to be a global example of a player out there doing something for the greater good of their club – and he embodies that for me – so, in my professional opinion, if you can afford that and if you're able to support by taking a pay cut, then clearly those who need it the most are going to benefit."

Bates also praised the influence of former Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney in encouraging conversations around mental health.

Writing for The Times, Derby County star Rooney outlined how the suspension of the football calendar could have implications for the mental wellbeing of players who have seen their routine grind to a halt.

"Wayne is in many ways an ambassador, he is a cultural leader for the game, especially because what he has achieved at international level, and certainly to be continuing his career even now and still performing at a very high level encourages others to do the same," Bates said.

"When you have somebody like Wayne come and be very open and very honest about mental health on a global level within the game, that can only be a good thing because it encourages others to have conversations, to open up conversations and be courageous enough to talk about their own mental health, and of course talking about it is the first step to improving it."

On April 6, 1996, the United States of America embraced a new competition as Major League Soccer debuted in San Jose.

After the collapse of the North American Soccer League 12 years earlier, a new 10-team league had formed, hoping to ride the crest of a wave from USA hosting the 1994 World Cup.

To mark 24 years to the day since Eric Wynalda's 88th-minute strike earned San Jose Clash a 1-0 win over DC United, we look at the biggest landmarks in MLS' history so far.

 

1996 - THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA

As part of the agreement to award USA the 1994 World Cup, the United States Soccer Federation had to commit to starting a new elite league.

The result was the formation of MLS - a 10-team competition with clubs such as LA Galaxy, DC United and New England Revolution all involved in that inaugural campaign.

DC United came from 2-0 down to beat the Galaxy 3-2 in the MLS Cup in front of 34,643 fans in Massachusetts.

2001 - HUNT TO THE RESCUE

After four years of dwindling attendances, the future of MLS appeared bleak when commissioner Don Garber staged a meeting in 2001 attended by both club owners and bankruptcy attorneys.

The league had lost $250million since its first game, but Philip Anschutz, the Kraft and Hunt families stepped forward to bankroll the 11 franchises between them.

The late Lamar Hunt had convinced owners not to fold the league, and it proved a shrewd decision...

2005 - THE EXPANSION BOOM BEGINS

For the first time since 1998 - when Chicago Fire and the short-lived Miami Fusion came on board - new MLS teams joined the party in the form of Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA.

MLS expanded to 13 clubs in 2007, and it grew in size in each of the next five seasons.

This season, MLS has 26 clubs and that number will grow to 30 by 2022.

2007 - DAVID BRINGS BECKS APPEAL

It could be argued no player has had a greater impact on MLS than one David Beckham.

The Manchester United and Real Madrid great arrived in the City of Stars in 2007 thanks to the 'Designated Player Rule' - nicknamed the 'Beckham Rule', allowing clubs to sign up to three players that count outside their salary cap.

LA Galaxy's acquisition of Beckham was seen as a huge coup. The England midfielder spent five seasons in Hollywood and his arrival helped put MLS on the map.

2012 - AMERICA'S SECOND FAVOURITE SPORT

As well as Beckham's arrival, the sport's popularity was also aided by USA's thrilling matches at the 2010 World Cup.

USA beat Algeria to reach the last 16 thanks to a last-gasp Landon Donovan goal, only to lose their first knockout match to Ghana in extra time.

Interest intensified, though, and in 2012 an ESPN poll found MLS was America's second-most popular sporting league among those aged 12-24 - behind just the NFL.

2018 - MARTINEZ AND ATLANTA BRING THE NOISE

The 2018 MLS Cup was watched by 73,019 fans at Atlanta United's Mercedes-Benz Stadium, shattering the previous final record of 61,316 supporters from 16 years earlier.

Atlanta, in just their second campaign, won the trophy during a memorable campaign when Josef Martinez scored a record 31 goals in the regular season.

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic making the Galaxy must-watch again, Wayne Rooney transforming DC United and Carlos Vela firing at Los Angeles FC, it was one of the more memorable MLS campaigns to date.

Wayne Rooney has branded the public pressure put on players to take pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic as a "disgrace" and believes they have been left in a "no-win situation".

Health minister Matt Hancock said in his Thursday COVID-19 briefing that Premier League footballers should "play their part" during the crisis and make a contribution, comments made after some top-flight clubs used the government's furlough scheme for non-playing staff.

The Premier League has also called for players to take a 30 per cent pay cut, though the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) claims such a move would lead to a loss in important revenue from tax contributions.

In his column for the Sunday Times, former England captain Rooney explained how he is willing to help out - provided he knows where his money will be used - but was critical of how players have been thrust into the media spotlight.

"If the government approached me to help support nurses financially or buy ventilators I'd be proud to do so - as long as I knew where the money was going," wrote Derby County skipper Rooney.

"I'm in a position where I could give something up. Not every footballer is in the same position. Yet suddenly the whole profession has been put on the spot with a demand for 30 per cent pay cuts across the board. Why are footballers suddenly the scapegoats?

"How the past few days have played out is a disgrace.

"First the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said that Premier League players should take a pay cut. He was supposed to be giving the nation the latest on the biggest crisis we've faced in our lifetimes.

"Why was the pay of footballers even in his head? Was he desperate to divert attention from his government's handling of this pandemic?"

On the subject of the Premier League's statement on lowering salaries, Rooney questioned the decision by the organisation to go public with such a proposal.

"It seemed strange to me because every other decision in this process has been kept behind closed doors, but this had to be announced publicly,” he added.

"Why? It feels as if it’s to shame the players – to force them into a corner where they have to pick up the bill for lost revenue.

"In my opinion it is now a no-win situation. Whatever way you look at it, we're easy targets."

Today marks 25 years since Major League Baseball stars called off their strike, which had resulted in the previous year's World Series being scrapped.

It is also 38 years to the day since the New York Mets were left stunned by the death of one of the biggest names in baseball.

History was made on this day in England at Aintree in 1977, while India's cricketers and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney were both celebrating nine years ago.

Let's take a look back at April 2 in sporting history.

1972 - Baseball in shock as Mets manager Hodges dies

Gil Hodges had been a superstar with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Los Angeles Dodgers, and rounded off his playing career with the just-founded New York Mets. An eight-time All-Star, as a coach he added to the two World Series with the Dodgers, Hodges famously reviving the Mets and leading them to a shock 1969 title triumph over the Baltimore Orioles. But Hodges died on April 2, 1972, at the age of just 47, when he suffered a heart attack following a round of golf in West Palm Beach, Florida. It was his second heart attack: a first came in Atlanta in September 1968, early in his career as manager of the Mets.

1977 - Red Rum wins third Grand National

Tommy Stack rode Red Rum to Aintree glory, as the Ireland-bred steeplechaser followed up 1973 and 1974 triumphs at the Liverpool course with an unprecedented third Grand National victory. The feat has never been matched, with Red Rum triumphing against the odds after second-placed finishes in 1975 and 1976. At the age of 12, Red Rum's third success went down as one of racing's most famous wins.

1995 - Baseball stars go back to work

From August 12 1994 until April 2 1995, there was no top-tier baseball in the United States, with MLB stars going on strike in a labour dispute that stemmed from salary-cap proposals that got players riled. The 1994-95 season was abandoned in September, and the strike lasted for 232 days until judge Sonia Sotomayor's injunction against team owners persuaded the players to go back to work.

2011 - India triumph, Rooney treble

India landed Cricket World Cup glory in front of their home fans in Mumbai when the hosts landed a six-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the final. Mahela Jayawardene made a century in Sri Lanka's 274-6 before India reached their target with 10 balls to spare, helped by 97 from Gautam Gambhir and 91 not out from MS Dhoni.

In London, on the same day, Wayne Rooney scored a hat-trick as Manchester United came from 2-0 behind to defeat West Ham 4-2 at Upton Park in the Premier League, an important result as Alex Ferguson's team went on to win the title weeks later.

It is exactly 35 years since Wrestlemania I took place and never has the mantra 'the show must go on' been more apt than in the world of WWE.

While the globe has been ground to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic, Vince McMahon's global sports entertainment behemoth has continued with its weekly television shows Raw and Smackdown filmed in the absence of live audiences at the company's performance center.

Indeed, WWE's flagship event Wrestlemania is going ahead in the same fashion despite the breakout of COVID-19, which curtailed hosting the show at the original location of the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Fan favourites including John Cena, Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Charlotte Flair, Edge, Randy Orton and Bill Goldberg are scheduled to appear on a bumper card shown over Saturday and Sunday this weekend.

But there will also be the presence of former NFL star Rob Gronkowski, who is slated to serve as host of Wrestlemania 36.

The ex-New England Patriots tight end – who helped his buddy Mojo Rawley win the 'Andre the Giant Battle Royal' during the Wrestlemania 33 pre-show – is not the first athlete to show up in WWE. Here we take a look at some others.

WAYNE ROONEY

England and Manchester United's record goalscorer had a run-in with Wade Barrett during a November 2015 edition of Monday Night Raw.

Preston fan Barrett, incensed by what he felt was a dive by Rooney in an FA Cup tie between his team and United nine months prior, said the now Derby County midfielder embarrasses his son "every time you step on a football pitch". Rooney retaliated with a slap.

RONDA ROUSEY

"Ronda's gonna kill ya..." was the chant emanating around Levi's Stadium as the fearsome Ronda Rousey stepped between the ropes at Wrestlemania 31.

Accompanied by WWE great Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, now a worldwide movie star, UFC icon Rousey was involved in a spat with the legendary Triple H and his wife Stephanie McMahon.

Three years later, Rousey partnered Olympic gold medallist Kurt Angle to defeat 'The Game' and 'The Billion Dollar Princess'. In January 2018, she became an in-ring regular and won Raw's women's title, which she dropped to Lynch a year ago.

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL

Better known for slam dunks, former Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal got in a choke slam at Wrestlemania 32.

The four-time NBA champion had a stare down with the Big Show, before the two combined to slam the 'Big Red Machine' Kane.

RICKY HATTON

Ricky Hatton earned hordes of fans throughout a brilliant boxing career.

In November 2009, 'The Hitman' stepped into a different kind of ring to host an episode of Raw from Sheffield Arena.

Hatton even donned the gloves to land a knockout punch on Chavo Guerrero Jr., with whom he had feuded on the evening.

FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has beaten them all in the boxing ring, as his 50-0 record proves.

But it was a true case of David vs Goliath when Mayweather, approximately 5'7" and 150lbs, came up against the 7'2", 500lb giant The Big Show at Wrestlemania 24.

Despite the notable size advantage, Big Show was distracted by a member of Mayweather's entourage hitting him with a chair and 'Money' delivered a telling blow, albeit while wearing brass knuckles, to knock out his huge opponent.

PETE ROSE

Pete Rose is a legend of the baseball world, holding MLB's all-time hits record and winning the World Series on three occasions.

Rose was part of the 1970s Cincinnati Reds team that earned the nickname 'The Big Red Machine'.

But his run in with WWE's own 'Big Red Machine' Kane during the late 1990s and 2000 have become the thing of wrestling folklore.

On one such occasion at Wrestlemania 15, Rose was disguised as a chicken and earned a beatdown from Kane, including his devastating tombstone finishing manoeuvre.

MIKE TYSON

'Iron' Mike Tyson is no stranger to a WWE ring.

'The Baddest Man on the Planet' had an infamous showdown with 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, one of the all-time greats in WWE, on an episode of Raw and had seemingly sided with one of the company's most famous stables D-Generation X before one of its members Shawn Michaels faced Austin at Wrestlemania 14.

However, during the event Tyson showed his true allegiance, counting the pin for Austin and clocking Michaels. Some 12 years later, Tyson buried the hatchet with his DX foes, unveiling a shirt with their logo on and knocking out Chris Jericho during a Raw segment.

MUHAMMAD ALI

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee - did you know this boxing legend starred in WWE?

Okay, sure, back then it was known as WWF when Ali was one of the guest referees at the first Wrestlemania at New York's Madison Square Garden for the main event between 'Hollywood' Hulk Hogan and A-Team star Mr. T versus 'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Orndorff and 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper.

BROCK LESNAR

Few men strike fear in their opponents quite like Brock Lesnar, who is as well known for his two stints in WWE as he is for being a former UFC heavyweight champion.

Lesnar is a multi-time champion in the organisation and will defend his WWE title against Drew McIntyre this weekend.

TYSON FURY

'The Gypsy King' recently crowned his own personal road to recovery by knocking out Deontay Wilder to become the WBC heavyweight champion.

The big-talking Briton warmed up for that bout by enjoying a short run in WWE, feuding with 'The Monster Among Men' Braun Strowman, which resulted in Fury in earning a count-out win over his huge opponent at WWE's Crown Jewel pay-per-view last October.

Wayne Rooney said he believes the coronavirus pandemic might mean the loss of the 2020-21 season in English football but insisted the Football Association is right to prioritise completing the current season whenever that becomes possible.

The former England captain commended the FA's decision to extend the length of the current season indefinitely, describing it as "the fair thing" for promotion, relegation and title races to be settled.

Rooney, who plays for Derby County in the Championship, indicated he is opposed to matches being played behind closed doors given the strain emergency services are already under across the UK.

"It wouldn't surprise me if finishing the season takes until the end of 2020," Rooney said in The Times.

"Football, like every other industry, is in unknown territory and, just like every other industry, has to listen to the advice and take all necessary precautions. For me, that rules out finishing the season behind closed doors.

"When you play behind closed doors it still means bringing together a fairly large group of people. You need ambulances, doctors, paramedics. They're mandatory. Police may be needed too. Why bring them all to a football match when in this crisis they will be needed elsewhere for things that are far more important?

"I wouldn't be comfortable playing a game knowing there were people dying or very sick because of coronavirus and we're taking those workers away from the front line."

Despite enjoying two spells at Everton and spending 13 years at Manchester United, Rooney hailed his former clubs' rivals Liverpool as deserving winners of the Premier League and tipped them to finish the job when the season resumes.

Derby are 12th in the Championship but only five points outside the play-off positions, and Rooney underlined the importance of avoiding the legal ramifications that abandonment of the current season would trigger.

"The FA helped to clarify that the league season will finish and that is fair," said the 34-year-old striker.

"Liverpool will win the Premier League. [They] have been fantastic. They have put so much work in. They deserve this title. Can you imagine waiting 30 years and then having it taken away like this? The right decision has been made.

"It's also right in terms of promotion and relegation and places. These issues are so big for the clubs involved that I imagine there would be a lot of legal fights if the season was just abandoned. The fair thing is to finish 2019-20 — even if we have to lose next season in the process."

The coronavirus pandemic is still raising questions across sport, even with the global calendar decimated by cancelled and postponed events.

Coronavirus has, according to official figures, caused around 6,500 deaths from approximately 170,000 confirmed cases worldwide.

As the pandemic continues, there are going to be some big decisions made in the world of sport over the coming week, with UEFA's 55 members set to come together – via video conference – on Tuesday.

The fate of this season's Champions League and Europa League will be up for debate, while Euro 2020 is also to be discussed.

Here is a look at the latest developments:

 

Ahead of Tuesday's meeting with UEFA, Italian football federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina confirmed he will call for Euro 2020 to be postponed, in the hope that might allow the Serie A season to be finished in June.

This proposal will likely be backed by LaLiga boss Javier Tebas, who is convinced the top-flight season in Spain will be completed. Swiss FA president Dominique Blanc, meanwhile, has confirmed he has coronavirus.

It is not yet clear what will happen in the Premier League, with the teams set to reconvene for another meeting on Thursday and, after coming under criticism for stating that the season should be considered "null and void", West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady defended her comments.

"The Premier League and EFL are doing all we can to ensure the season is finished. Including suspending games, isolating players, and if required playing games behind closed doors and into the summer months," she wrote on Twitter.

"My point was safety of fans, players, staff come first and if the remaining games just cannot be played the only fair and reasonable thing is to declare [the] season null and void."

In a newspaper column, Wayne Rooney backed the decision to postpone fixtures in England, but criticised the Premier League and EFL for taking so long to make the call.

More players have confirmed they have tested positive for COVID-19.

Valencia defender Ezequiel Garay became the first LaLiga player to be named as having the illness, with the club adding four more members of the first-team playing and coaching staff had also tested positive.

Valencia's former Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala confirmed later on Sunday that he was one of those with the virus.

In Serie A, Sampdoria's Omar Colley posted a video to his official Instagram account in which he refuted his club's claim that he too had received a positive test result.

Meanwhile, Manchester United's Paul Pogba joined the raft of sports stars pledging to support people during the crisis, as he launched a fundraiser to mark his 27th birthday.

In France, Paris Saint-Germain announced they had extended the suspension of all club operations until March 18.

In the United States, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert – the first NBA player to be diagnosed with coronavirus – provided a positive update on his recovery, while also stating: "I wish I would have took this thing more seriously and I hope everyone else will do so because we can do it together."

Not all sport has been postponed just yet, with rugby league in both Britain and Australia continuing for now.

In Super League, Castleford Tigers ran out winners over defending champions St Helens, though in the National Rugby League (NRL), Melbourne Storm's Cameron Smith called for the competition to be suspended.

Round two is set to go ahead next week, albeit behind closed doors, while New Zealand Warriors have elected to remain in Australia rather than return to Auckland, where they would have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Wayne Rooney believes footballers in England were being treated "like guinea pigs" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite initially planning to go ahead with fixtures across the weekend, the Premier League and EFL announced on Friday that matches had been postponed until at least April 3.

The decision brought England's competitions in line with the rest of the major European leagues, with Ligue 1 having been suspended indefinitely while LaLiga and Serie A are off until April at the earliest – the Bundesliga has also been postponed.

Derby County forward Rooney - who is Manchester United and England's record scorer - believes the right decision was taken, though he was left frustrated by how long the authorities took to make the call.

"After the emergency meeting, at last the right decision was made," Rooney wrote in a column in The Times.

"Until then it almost felt like footballers in England were being treated like guinea pigs.

"The rest of sport - tennis, Formula One, rugby, golf, football in other countries - was closing down and we were being told to carry on.

"At Derby County, we sat at training on Thursday waiting for [prime minister] Boris Johnson to speak. People were anxious.

"Thankfully football made the right call in the end. We had to put the season on hold. Some people won't be happy but I just think, in this case, football has to come second. It's a sport. It's just a sport."

It remains unclear how the season will continue when the pandemic is over.

On Tuesday, the 55 member nations of UEFA will convene to discuss plans for the Champions League, Europa League and Euro 2020, while the Premier League has called another emergency meeting on Thursday.

Rooney, though, says players will be happy to go with whatever decision is made, as long as it is safe to play again.

"If people's lives are at risk, that has to come first, regardless of whether you're going to win the league title, whether you're trying to get into Europe or whether you're going to get relegated or promoted," he added.

"We're happy to play until September if the season extends to then, if that's how it has to be. That's our job. As long as we know we're safe to play and it's a safe environment for spectators, we'll play."

On Thursday, Arsenal confirmed head coach Mikel Arteta had tested positive for COVID-19, as has Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Player-coach Wayne Rooney hopes his teenage Derby County team-mates will benefit from the experience of taking on Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round.

Derby were soundly beaten 3-0 by United at Pride Park on Thursday, with Luke Shaw opening the scoring before Odion Ighalo's brace secured a quarter-final trip to Norwich City.

Home captain Rooney was facing his former club and came closer than any colleague to getting the Rams on the scoresheet, seeing a stoppage-time free-kick touched over by Sergio Romero.

However, the former United captain was joined by a trio of young prospects in midfield – Max Bird, 19, Louie Sibley, 18, and Jason Knight, 19 – who impressed in spells.

Sibley was central to much of the action as he enjoyed a second-half tussle with Scott McTominay that saw each player inflict some rugged challenges.

And Rooney was encouraged by what he saw despite the disappointment of defeat.

"Obviously Manchester United are a good team and we wanted to try to win," United's record goalscorer told BT Sport.

"I think the draw was quite favourable for ourselves or Manchester United, whoever got through, and they were the better team on the night.

"But I have to say for our younger players, what an experience for them, and they didn't disappoint. They had some great moments today, and this game, although we lost, will do them the world of good."

Asked to assess the gap between the teams, he added: "That's the level, the difference in them handling the ball. There was always going to be that difference.

"We had to take our moments, which we had, but unfortunately we didn't. We didn't let anyone down tonight. We gave everything and, unfortunately, just came up short."

Rooney suggests he is also learning in the Championship as he takes on new duties under manager Phillip Cocu.

"Of course you can still learn," he said. "It's a different league to what I'm used to, different ambitions.

"Obviously, at Manchester United, you're always thriving to win trophies. At Derby, we're thriving to try to get promotion. It is different. And my role as a coach, trying to balance them, is different.

"It's something I'm really enjoying. I'm enjoying playing football first of all – I'm feeling good, I want to continue doing that – but also that transition period of going from player to coach.

"The manager's been fantastic with me and I want to keep learning and keep trying to improve myself."

Wayne Rooney's hopes of a dream reunion lasted little more than half an hour on Thursday as Manchester United visited their record goalscorer's new employers.

Rooney was centre stage in an otherwise youthful Derby County team for the FA Cup fifth-round tie, dictating play from deep in midfield, a role that pitted him directly against Bruno Fernandes, United's latest superstar.

Former England captain Rooney, after crashing into Scott McTominay by the corner flag early on, provided the platform that allowed his younger colleagues to instead turn in the sort of energetic displays he was once renowned for in United red.

Max Bird, 19, Louie Sibley, 18, and Jason Knight, 19, hassled and harried Fernandes, who struggled to find the rhythm that has made him an instant hit at Old Trafford.

While Rooney kept passes ticking over as Derby held their own, even testing Sergio Romero with a low free-kick, Fernandes toiled.

The Portugal international ceded possession 14 times in the first 30 minutes and required treatment midway through the half after an awkward fall.

But a fortuitous opener took the game away from Rooney. Three Derby blocks in quick succession - the last from Fernandes - kept United at bay on the edge of the area, before Luke Shaw hammered a shot into the ground and the ball looped up after hitting Jesse Lingard's back on its way into the net.

Shaw, with an England place at Euro 2020 suddenly in his sights, then marched forward and slipped a pass into Odion Ighalo, who adjusted his feet to net United's second four minutes before half-time.

Rooney, an increasingly peripheral figure in his final months at United in 2018, was pushed into the background again, only to return to the fore to receive a yellow card for a foul on Fred.

The 34-year-old is still waiting for a first goal against United in seven attempts as an opposition player but has been booked in four of his five starts in such clashes.

There was more aggression following half-time, but Rooney kept his emotions in check to avoid an unseemly red card, and the Derby captain was at the genesis of bright moves that saw Martyn Waghorn and Jack Marriott go close.

Neither Rooney nor Derby could disrupt a serene night for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, though, and so the United fans launched into a lengthy serenade shortly before the hour-mark.

"He goes by the name of Wayne Rooney..."

The travelling supporters paused to acknowledge Fernandes, when an uncharacteristically sloppy outing concluded with his substitution, and then Ighalo after a ruthless third, but tributes to their 253-goal great were eventually reprised.

Rooney had vowed to celebrate if he scored against his former club, yet that only belatedly represented a serious threat as Sergio Romero touched over a stoppage-time free-kick.

There will surely be few further opportunities to soak up the United acclaim on the pitch, but the warm reception for a club legend merely meant Rooney had failed this time to end an unbeaten Red Devils run that stretches to nine matches.

Eliminated from the FA Cup, the Old Trafford favourite can at least now revert to his role as a supporter, no doubt desperate to see Solskjaer maintain a surge towards Wembley, claiming again the trophy Rooney lifted as captain in 2016.

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