Wayne Rooney has said that his “mind is clear” about how to operate as Manchester United’s centre-forward and that he is confident of scoring at least 20 goals from that position this season, despite a barren run of nine games.
The 29-year-old said after the 3-1 Champions League play-off win over Bruges on Tuesday – a game which provided more evidence that he is better suited as a No 10 – that criticism of his lack of impact so far this season was an overreaction to his poor performance in one game, at Aston Villa last week.
“I think my mind’s clear,” he said. “I know how to play the role. It’s just a case of getting the chances and taking them, which I’m hopeful I’m going to do soon. I’ve had one bad game this season and everyone’s all over it. I’ve had that all throughout my career. I’m an honest guy, I know when I haven’t played well and against Aston Villa I was below my standards. Fortunately I had a much better game [against Bruges]. I could have got a goal or two, but that’s football.”
Rooney rejected the notion that his tendency to score in spurts gave him confidence that goals would soon flow. “Not really,” he said. “It’s early on in the season. Everyone will write about the end of last season and the beginning of this season but we’re three games into the new season, so it’s down to me to keep going. I’ve experienced this before and the goals will come. I know that.”
The spotlight on Rooney will be even more intense if he does not find the net against Newcastle United on Saturday, as he has only once gone more than nine games without scoring and that was nearly a decade ago. But he insisted that he does not feel under any more pressure as the main central striker for United. “No. I always set myself standards and I try to reach them. I understand, obviously, it’s on me to get the goals. I understand I need to be the one who leads that line for us and try to get the goals for us.”
Rooney was substituted against the Belgians, making way for Marouane Fellaini six minutes from full-time. In the week that John Terry’s half-time withdrawal against Manchester City created such scrutiny, Rooney said being removed before the end did not bother him. “No, of course not. You want to play the games, obviously, but Felly gives us a different style if you like, in terms of getting the ball in the box earlier and trying to push for that goal, late doors, which has obviously paid off for us.”
His self-assessment of the Villa Park performance was that he had surrendered possession too often. “I think obviously I lost the ball too easily a lot of times and I’m aware of that. It’s not a game I’ll want to look back on [fondly] but obviously you have games like that, it’s football. You have nights like that and you have to move on.”Reuse content