Louis van Gaal insists he “still has confidence” in Wayne Rooney, despite admitting he could opt to rest Manchester United’s misfiring captain.
Rooney has scored just two Premier League goals in over 900 minutes of action this season with the likes of Alan Shearer suggesting the player needs a rest and his spark has gone out.
However, speaking to the media ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash against CSKA Moscow, Van Gaal insists his captain very much retains his confidence.
“I have still confidence in Wayne Rooney,” Van Gaal said.
“Wayne Rooney is a fantastic player so expectation is much higher than another player in another club, but you have to also give players time to come back in a certain shape and that is what we are doing and I have confidence in this player but he gives also more than only scoring goals.
“He is our captain but also 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.”
Interestingly, Van Gaal would not rule out the possibility of giving Rooney time off in the future.
“Yes, but not only for Wayne,” Van Gaal said when asked if he would consider giving Rooney a break.
“I have done that for all my players. I have done that, for example Paddy McNair was a week in Ireland last week.
“When we think it is better, I do that. It is not a big issue for me because even when I was a very young trainer-coach I did it with Jari Litmanen, he had problems in the months of November and December, so I did it. I sent him on holidays.
“That is not a big issue for me but it is more a big issue for the players. They are not so easy to convince.”
With Rooney struggling for goals as United’s striker, there have been calls to move impressive young Frenchman Anthony Martial from the left flank into the central role.
But the United boss admits he is still unsure about where best to play the mercurial Frenchman.
“He is very young but I think it is better he develops in the striker’s position.
“I’m not convinced he can play on the right flank, but that is another story.
“I’m always thinking in the team’s benefit and not in the benefit of one player and I have said I have to make all the decisions around the game plan and the opponent, so it’s not I have said left wing is his best position, but he can play in three positions in his eyes – left, striker and No.10.
“I think his best position may be the striker’s position.”
Michael Carrick has been liked what he has seen so far from Martial since his summer move from Monaco and added: “I’ve been impressed so far. The signs are very positive and it’s great for the future.”
United team news v CSKA
Morgan Schneiderlin missed training on the eve of the game against CSKA because of a “personal issue”, but could be available for selection.
Phil Jones trained away from the rest of the squad on Monday morning, but is available. Memphis Depay also trained separately from the group, but is not expected to feature at Old Trafford.
Van Gaal says he hopes that, whatever team he puts out against the Russians, the players will have the Old Trafford faithful on their side.
He added: “I hope they shall support my players. It’s much more difficult to perform on the pitch than it is to do what I am doing – coaching. I hope they will be the 12th player again tomorrow.”
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