Ahead of the first leg of Manchester United’s UEFA Champions League playoff with Club Brugge at Old Trafford on Tuesday, Louis van Gaal has been defending his captain Wayne Rooney.
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Rooney, 29, has failed to score in either of United’s 1-0 victories to open the season and has looked lackluster and a little isolated in the lone forward role for the Red Devils.
Speaking about criticism of Rooney, LVG hit back at the media for picking apart his performances so far, as the media lambasted the Dutch manager last season when he played Rooney in a midfield role for various spells during the 2014-15 campaign.
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Van Gaal also revealed that he believes he has enough forward options, quelling rumors that United are set to make a move late in the transfer window to sign a forward to support Rooney.
“All the media has advised me for one year that I have to put him [Rooney] in the striker’s position, so it is very amazing that after two matches you are doubting your own opinion,” Van Gaal said. “I cannot understand that. I have always confidence in my players but we don’t have only Wayne Rooney in the striker’s position. We have Adnan Januzaj. He played in the USA [on United’s pre-season tour] in the striker’s position. I have given him that chance and he has shown he can do that. We have Chicharito [Hernandez] and we have Wilson, so I don’t think we have a lack of strikers.”
Rooney had just one touch in Aston Villa’s penalty area during the 1-0 win last Friday and he’s only had three shots in his opening two games of the season. You can put most of that down to Rooney, but you also have to look around at those providing the chances for him. Memphis Depay is still getting their (but deserves patience) and the likes of Juan Mata and Ashley Young have yet to regain their form from the end of the 2014-15 campaign.
United’s No. 10 is far from a one-man band but even if he keeps producing tepid displays, no matter what LVG says about his other attacking options, there’s no way Rooney doesn’t start. After selling Robin van Persie and deciding to not sign Radamel Falcao permanently this summer, Rooney has little competition for a starting spot. Could that be a determining factor in his sloppy start to the season?
If you look back through Rooney’s career, every time he gets criticized or goes through a slump he comes back firing on all cylinders. Let’s see if that’s the case once again.