David Moyes doubted the desire shown by Wayne Rooney when he arrived at Manchester United in the summer

United boss wanted Rooney to play with the same aggression that made the striker one of the club's key players

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The Independent Football

When David Moyes arrived at Manchester United his first impression of Wayne Rooney was that he had “gone soft”.

At the time, it seemed Rooney was destined for Chelsea.

He had returned for the start of pre-season training fitter than he had done for years according to United insiders.

But Moyes detected a problem. And now he is happy to declare Rooney back at full throttle again.

"When I came I thought he had gone a bit soft," Moyes told MUTV.

"I thought he had to get back to being a bit more aggressive.

"We are challenging him to be that at the moment because when he is, he is a handful to play against."

It did take a while for it to sink in that Rooney would be going nowhere.

But since United made their stance clear, Moyes has been delighted with the response.

"I didn't think there was ever a line to draw under between me and Wayne but now he realises the situation," said Moyes.

"This is a big year for him with the World Cup and he would say, by his standards, last season wasn't my best season.

"He has set out his own stall to say he is going to improve on that."

Already the top United scorer in Manchester derbies, Rooney heads into tomorrow's showdown with City at the Etihad Stadium needing just one to eclipse Joe Hayes and Francis Lee by becoming the overall leading marksman.

"Wayne's attitude is that he is a big-game player," said Moyes.

"People come to see people like him make the difference.

"The top players do influence games. That is why we are hoping that having players like Wayne Rooney at our club gives us a chance of making a difference when games are tight."

In that regard, Rooney compliments Robin van Persie perfectly.

The pair have scored five goals between them in the last two games and on recent evidence their partnership is going to be particularly prolific.

"I said during the summer how much I was looking forward to seeing the two of them play together," said Moyes.

"That hasn't changed.

"It has whetted my appetite to encourage it to get better, to work on it and try and find ways that make it very difficult to play against them."