Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has claimed Wayne Rooney might be trying ‘too hard’ to find the back of the net this season.
The Old Trafford captain has come under fire from critics and fans alike for his abject displays this term, but his manager doesn’t think it’s a case of the 30-year-old not being good enough for his appointed task anymore.
Van Gaal's defence
Despite the fact Rooney has scored just two Premier League goals this year - a stat worsened by the fact that he’s been United’s primary frontman - Van Gaal refused to criticise him, implying instead that he is simply too desperate to score.
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"Players are human beings and they want to score goals but maybe they want it too much and maybe then the choices are not always good," Van Gaal said, as per ESPN.
"Maybe he [Rooney] is doing too much, because you never know as a player how you can improve your shape or your finishing. It can also [create] a lot of doubt and I try to influence that.
"But it can be too hard and then your mental state shall be a little bit less and that has an influence on everything and that's the most difficult thing as a manager and player to cope with."
Simply not good enough
Whether that’s the case or not remains to be seen, but it certainly isn’t a viable excuse for a man charged with leading the line at a club hoping to challenge for the title.
For years fans have clamoured to see Rooney converted into United’s leading striker and, now that he is, it appears he’s not up to the task of notching the strikes necessary to put the club into major trophy contention.
Not all Rooney's fault?
Of course, it’s unfair to lay the entirety of the blame at the England captain’s feet, particularly as he’s proven in the past that he can be a goalscorer defined by form.
Only yesterday did quotes emerge from former teammate Paul Scholes that insinuated it wasn’t Rooney’s fault but rather a fault of Van Gaal’s system.
In any case, the former Everton man will need to be far better moving forward if he wants to keep his place.
The young Anthony Martial very much looks the part and it won’t be too long before Van Gaal has to consider accepting the urge to start the Frenchman in a central role on a regular basis.
United fans, should Rooney really be dropped to the bench? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.