Wayne Rooney insists the Manchester United players are “fighting” for under-fire manager Louis van Gaal.
Van Gaal’s position at United is the source of mounting speculation following a run of six matches without a win in all competitions that leaves them fifth in the Premier League table and out of the Champions League.
The Dutchman walked out of his news conference on Wednesday following intense media speculation surrounding his position but Rooney is adamant the squad is firmly behind the former Barcelona boss.
He told Sky Sports News: “You have a lot of people talking about things that they believe are happening. But, in reality, the people who are writing that stuff don’t really know anything.
“We are working hard and fighting for the manager to try to get results and turn the season around. We have to stick together.”
Rooney conceded, however, that United’s recent performances have been below par.
“The last few weeks the results haven’t been great for us and it’s frustrating and as a player it’s hard to deal with. We have to be strong and get through it and get the results we need,” he added.
“It’s normal that confidence is a bit lower and we need to try to lift it as we’ve got some tough games coming up and we need to be at our best.
“As a group of players we know can do better and we regularly have meetings with the players, myself and the other senior players in the squad, and the manager as well. We are all working together to find the best solution to try to win football matches.”
United and Rooney, on a personal level, have come in for heavy criticism this season and the England captain, who also skippers his club, admited to being “hurt” and “frustrated” at the situation.
“It’s not nice when you’re being criticised every week, every game,” he said. “It’s tough for the players to deal with. We are hurting as we are proud to play for Manchester United and when it’s not right it’s hard to take, it’s frustrating.
“We all have families and sometimes there’s stuff that gets written which is not nice for your family to see. It’s fine for me but for the people in my family who aren’t used to it, it’s tough. But it’s all part of being a footballer these days.
“I know my performances can be better and I am working hard to improve that.
“The way the last few weeks have gone, it’s not the way we want it to go and we are working hard to fix it and get it right.
“We need to get through this group of games coming up. The last few games, the results, haven’t been good enough. Sometimes it’s the fundamentals, the basics, we need to get right for the results to improve.”
United head to Stoke City on Boxing Day for what appears another daunting test.
Rooney said: “It’s a tough game, the weather always seems to be terrible down there as well. We have to battle to get three points and hopefully that’ll be the start for a happy 2016 for us.”