Wayne Rooney seeks to improve form despite Manchester United scoring run

 

The Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has admitted he is not happy with his form despite closing in on his best-ever scoring return.

Rooney's double in Sunday's 4-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford took his goal tally to 31, just three fewer than his personal best haul from two seasons ago. In addition, the 26-year-old will equal the feat of legendary winger George Best the next time he finds the net for United, which will be his 179th Manchester United goal.

With Sir Alex Ferguson's men once again five points clear at the Premier League summit, and only four games to go, it would appear everything in Rooney's garden is rosy. Yet it seems that is not the case.

Immediately after Sunday's one-sided contest, Ferguson claimed Rooney was guilty of being too casual. And, although the striker did not appear to be impressed at being replaced by Dimitar Berbatov straight after his second goal, Rooney accepts his form is not good.

"It was nice to score two goals but I didn't think my performance was good enough," he said. "The rest of my play wasn't great. I am disappointed with that and I will be working hard to put it right."

Rooney's form will be a worry to whoever ends up replacing Fabio Capello as England manager, considering the striker will still be a central figure at Euro 2012 even though he will miss the group games against France and Sweden because of suspension.

United appear to have found a way of coping with any lapses. And, at this stage of the season, results are obviously more important than performances, offering Rooney an additional incentive to match Best's scoring feats.

"It would be great to equal that record and, hopefully, surpass it," he said. "I would be proud of that achievement but I can't really look at it just at the minute.

"If it happens then great but it's the points that are important at this time of the year and if I can score the goals that get those points then I will be pleased."

On the back of a surprise defeat at Wigan Athletic last week and with their lead at the top of the Premier League cut to two points by a Manchester City side that has bounced back from their horror show at Arsenal by scoring 10 times in two matches, United could not have had picked better opponents than Villa.

Although the ailing Midlands club were at best a sporadic threat, they failed to apply any meaningful pressure on the home goal, allowing United to saunter home, in the process keeping their sixth clean sheet in seven games as they have hit their best defensive form just when it matters the most. "Obviously, we were disappointed with our performance against Wigan but we had a chance to get that out of our system and keep that distance between us and Manchester City," Rooney said. "It was a big game for us and we deserved to win."

The theatrics of Ashley Young may not be winning many friends outside of Old Trafford but – as against Queen's Park Rangers a week earlier – it could be accurately claimed there was contact with a defender prior to a dive that brought a penalty.

United can only hope increasingly wary officials do not deny them against Rooney's former club Everton, the visitors to Old Trafford next Sunday, their first game since the gut-wrenching FA Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool.

Victory then – and Everton have not beaten United away from home since 1992 – would set up a derby-day meeting with City on 30 April that offers the chance to seal a record 20th league title.

Celebrating at the Etihad Stadium would add an additional edge to inter-city rivalries, although Rooney accepts there is some work in front of his team-mates yet.

"A month or six weeks ago, if somebody had told me that we would be five points clear at this stage of the season I would have been delighted," said Rooney. "Next week against Everton is another massive game for us. We need to get three points there to make it an interesting night against Manchester City."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
Drinking - often heavily - is a running theme throughout HBO's Game of Thrones adaptation
food + drink
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living