Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will not drop struggling forward Wayne Rooney and insists his captain’s contribution to the club cannot be simply measured in goals.
The 30-year-old England skipper has only two Premier League strikes to his name this season and his form has come under heavy scrutiny in recent weeks.
Rooney has been unable to arrest a run of three successive goalless draws for Van Gaal’s misfiring side but he emphatically retains his manager’s backing.
“I still have confidence in Wayne Rooney,” the Dutchman told his pre-match press conference ahead of the Champions League clash with CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
“You can discuss everything about the scoring of Wayne Rooney but you can also discuss why other clubs are not scoring.
“But it is always Wayne Rooney and I can imagine that [it] is because Wayne Rooney is a fantastic player so the expectation is much higher than [on] another player in another club.
“I have confidence in this player. He gives more than only scoring goals. He is our captain and an example for the whole team.
“He has more credits than any other player. I have explained that to the group already one-and-a-half years ago.”
United’s travelling fans chanted “attack, attack, attack” as their dismal dry run continued at Crystal Palace on Saturday but Van Gaal defended his team’s attacking credentials – stating similar droughts have occurred during his club’s illustrious past.
“I have seen periods and tendencies in Manchester United like in other clubs,” he explained. “It was not always the big ‘Theatre of Dreams’. I am sorry to say that but it is logical also.
“Now we are hopefully making history, but it takes time. Until now there is always a progress. I can remind you that you [were] saying that defending is our problem and I said that ‘no, defensive organisation starts with the attackers.’
“Now we are the best defenders [best defensive record] in the Premier League and you are saying we cannot attack. No, it is not true. It is only a moment in the process.
“We have stood first in the Premier League. Now we have a bad period when you don’t score because football is scoring goals.”