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Van Gaal backs Rooney to shine despite poor start

Van Gaal is adamant Rooney will find his form. Credit: PA

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal maintains he has complete faith in Wayne Rooney despite his indifferent start to the campaign.

Rooney has been restored to his role as a central striker this season despite spending much of last term in midfield.

So far he has failed to find the net and has had no shots on target in two matches. In Friday's 1-0 Premier League win over Aston Villa, the United skipper only touched the ball in the away penalty box once - and that was when he was trying to run down the clock in injury time.

Van Gaal has decided against buying a striker in the transfer market and seems to have an unshakeable belief in the 29-year-old.

"All the media has written for one year that I have to put him in the striker's position so it is very amazing that after two matches you already are doubting your own opinion. I cannot understand that," the United manager said in a spiky press conference on the eve of Tuesday's Champions League play-off against Club Brugge at Old Trafford.

"I have always confidence in my players but we don't have only Wayne Rooney in the striker's position.

"We have also Adnan Januzaj, Chicharito (Javier Hernandez) and (James) Wilson so I don't think we have a lack of strikers."


The Wayne Rooney stats every Man Utd fan wants to see

Rooney scores a lot when he plays as the main striker. Credit: Oulala

Louis van Gaal's pre-season revelation that Wayne Rooney will play as his main striker in 2015/16 should ensure United's longest serving player returns a healthy goals tally.

For large periods, the Red Devils skipper has paid the price for his versatility in recent seasons, operating in deeper positions to accommodate other strikers in United's starting XI.

Those days appear to be over following the departures of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao, and a quick glance at the history books suggest this could mean a glut of goals for Rooney this season.

He scored 26 league goals in 2009/10 and 27 in 2011/12, compared with 12 last season, when he played the majority of games in midfield. As the secondary striker, meanwhile, Rooney has never managed more than 17 goals in one season.

Stats courtesy of Oulala

Man Utd striker Rooney hails England Lionesses

England men's captain Wayne Rooney has congratulated the women's team after they made it to the World Cup semi-finals on Saturday night.

Rooney was full of praise for England's Lionesses. Credit: PA

Rooney and his international team-mates were a damp squib in Brazil last year, with the team failing to make it out of the group stages after defeats to Italy and Uruguay and a draw against Costa Rica.

The women began their campaign with a loss to France but have not looked back since, beating Mexico, Colombia, Norway and hosts Canada to become the first English senior team to make a World Cup semi-final since 1990.

And Rooney, a veteran of three World Cup campaigns, was among the first to congratulate the Lionesses following their 2-1 win against Canada.

"England women doing the country proud. Huge congratulations on reaching the semi-finals," he wrote on Twitter.


Rooney confident of winning title at Man United next year

Wayne Rooney insists Manchester United will mount a serious title challenge next season.

Rooney is confident United can challenge for the title next season. Credit: PA

A difficult first season of the Louis van Gaal era ended with a somewhat underwhelming 0-0 draw at Hull on Sunday.

Despite a disappointing run of one win in their final six games, United achieved their aim of Champions League qualification - but Rooney is hungry for so much more.

The United skipper is used to challenging for titles and that is what he wants to be doing next season.

Van Gaal's team finished 17 points behind this year's winners Chelsea, but Rooney insists the gap between the two teams is capable of being bridged, so long as the club make the right moves in the transfer market.

He said:

I believe we are (close). You take the first 10 games and I think we had 13 points. When you consider from after that amount of games to where we've finished, we've probably got as many points after that as anyone else.

I think we're close, there's no doubt about it. You can see in our performances, we're outplaying teams, dominating possession, and it's just that final thing of taking our chances.

In the (defeat at) Chelsea, if I had scored that chance with my left foot then it could have been a completely different game and might have put them under a bit of pressure - it might have been a lot closer than it's finished.

As a group of players, myself and the manager - we all believe we're close and I'm sure with a player or two in the summer we'll have a good chance of going for the title.

– Wayne Rooney speaking to Sky Sports

Man United striker Wayne Rooney fit to play West Brom

Rooney has shaken off his injury worries. Credit: PA

Wayne Rooney has been passed fit for Manchester United's home game against West Brom.

There were fears that Rooney would miss the match at Old Trafford after he came off in the 88th minute of United's 3-0 defeat to Everton last Sunday following a kick to the knee.

But speaking to MUTV on Friday, manager Louis van Gaal confirmed his captain is available to play against the Baggies.

"Rooney is fit to play, it (the injury) was not so heavy as we expected," Van Gaal said.

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