Wayne Rooney says blame players for Manchester United struggles, not Louis Van Gaal

Defeat to relegation-threatened Sunderland at the weekend meant United still sit six points adrift of the top four

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has moved to take the pressure off manager Louis van Gaal by suggesting their poor form is down to the players.

Defeat to relegation-threatened Sunderland at the weekend meant United still sit six points adrift of the Premier League top four after being knocked out of the Champions League and Capital One Cup at early stages.

Rooney has returned to scoring ways since the turn of the New Year but remains frustrated by his side’s more unrelenting of problems. 

The England striker, who faces challenges from Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane for a starting place at the European Championship this summer, says criticism should be aimed at the players – not Van Gaal. 

“It's a very good group of players. At times it's been frustrating for us as we've under-performed,' the United captain told the Daily Mirror.

“And actually the manager has taken a lot of stick for some performances. It's down to us, we're players and we have to perform. At times this season we haven't done that. In terms of that, we've probably got off quite lightly and the manager has taken a lot of it.

“But we're going on the pitch. We have to create chances and win games and we haven't done that enough this season.

“The important thing now, I feel, is to win trophies again this season,” he said. 'It's been a few years since we won a trophy. This is more or less a new team so for ourselves, as a team, we need to win something. The fans want to see us win something again.

“Obviously the Champions League is massive for this club and it was disappointing to go out of it.

“We'll keep going in the league, keep trying. But our main aim has to be to make sure we can get in that top four. And then the Europa League, it would be great if we can win that. It's not where we wanted to be at the start of the season.

“But it's where we've found ourselves so why not go and try to win it.”

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