The Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney declared tonight that a video of him appearing to be knocked out during a boxing match in his own house with Stoke City’s Phil Bardsley was “what friends do” and perfectly acceptable in the privacy of his mansion.
The video has been circulating among friends of Rooney and Bardsley for several weeks but the striker – who has remained close to the defender since he left for Sunderland in 2008 – had not expected it to be made public.
“It’s in my own home. It’s not public. It’s what friends do. They mess around in the house,” Rooney said, after this goal sealed the 3-0 win over Tottenham which takes the side within two points of second-placed Manchester City in the Premier League. “It was a couple of mates in a private house, and somehow it’s managed to get on the front page of a national newspaper. That’s the world we live in today.”
Louis van Gaal, the United manager, said that it was “twisted” that he should even be asked questions about it. “I don’t want to answer any questions,” the Dutchman said.” I think it is a ridiculous world where we live that I have to answer questions. I don’t have any comment.”
United’s first goalscorer, Marouane Fellaini, said that team-talk Rooney had given before today’s game had been particularly inspirational. But Van Gaal seemed to detect that a question about the team meeting was a precursor to talk about the video, in which Rooney falls perilously close to the kitchen units of his £3.5m home in Prestbury, Cheshire, before ending up flat out on the tiles.
“Do you think I am not aware of that?” Van Gaal said of the meeting. “I was aware of that. I am not in the meeting because the captain has his own privileges. Of course, also the players know this game was of massive importance so I think a captain has to do something to help the players or help the manager or help the club. I was very pleased.”
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Van Gaal said that he felt Manchester City are being drawn into the “rat race” for the top four places with United, after their own 1-0 defeat at Burnley on Saturday. “Of course [they are].” Because Arsenal is one point behind and we are two points behind. If [City] want [to be] or don’t want [to be] is not the issue.” But he acknowledged that the trip to Anfield next Sunday would be challenging, with Brendan Rodgers’ side also fighting for one of the top four spots which now seem to be beyond Tottenham
“We have to go step by step,” he said. “It is a rat race and we are now two points from the second position but the first position is in my opinion eight points and still a game to go so that is too far away. We have to go step by step and the next game is Liverpool. Manchester United has not won too often the games in Liverpool.”
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said that the first half performance had been the worst of his tenure. “Our performance like a team was poor. We tried to play in our philosophy. When you concede, you make a lot of mistakes. You play the manner we play and it is difficult to win a game. We all agree if you play with three four five midfielders or one or two strikers, it is about the individuals and the quality. We were really poor. It is why we lost the game.”Reuse content