Van Gaal shields Rooney

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

MANCH­ESTER — Manch­ester United man­ager Louis van Gaal at­tempted to shield Wayne Rooney from crit­i­cism af­ter the striker turned in a la­bo­ri­ous dis­play in a 0-0 draw with Manch­ester City.

United con­trolled pos­ses­sion in Sun­day’s 170th derby at Old Traf­ford, but had to wait un­til the clos­ing stages to cre­ate any chances, with Jesse Lin­gard hit­ting the bar and Chris Smalling forc­ing Joe Hart to save.

For the third game run­ning Rooney started up front, but he was eclipsed by team-mate An­thony Mar­tial, lin­ing up on the left, who was United’s most dan­ger­ous at­tack­ing player and set up Lin­gard’s chance with a dinked pass.

Van Gaal re­fused to dis­cuss Rooney’s per­for­mance, how­ever, telling his post-match press con­fer­ence: “I have to talk ev­ery week about Rooney. Why?”

When it was put to him that it was be­cause the United cap­tain is one of his team’s star play­ers, Van Gaal told his in­ter­locu­tor: “Then you have to write it down. It is your opin­ion.

“I don’t give any more an­swers about Wayne Rooney be­cause I am sick of them.”

Play­ing the day af­ter his 30th birth­day, Rooney was look­ing to ex­tend his all-time record of 11 derby goals and equal De­nis Law’s United tally of 237 goals, and yet failed to record a sin­gle at­tempt at goal.

But he was not alone in that re­gard as United hit the tar­get only once, through Smalling, and Van Gaal re­vealed that he had asked his play­ers at half-time: “Why don’t you shoot?”

His ex­as­per­a­tion did not end there, as he also rued referee Mark Clat­ten­burg’s de­ci­sion not to award United a penalty early in the sec­ond half af­ter An­der Her­rera ap­peared to be caught by Ra­heem Ster­ling.

“We don’t have the luck nei­ther be­cause I have seen on the video that Her­rera, it was a penalty, but the referee was not giv­ing us that ben­e­fit,” he said.

United did not reg­is­ter an at­tempt at goal in the first half for the first time in a Pre­mier League game since the 2003-04 sea­son, while it took un­til the 82nd minute for either side to muster a shot on tar­get, with City sub­sti­tute Je­sus Navas tamely shoot­ing at David de Gea.

City man­ager Manuel Pel­le­grini said that he had not had a clear view of Her­rera’s penalty claim and praised Clat­ten­burg for a “good” per­for­mance.

His team had scored 11 goals in their pre­vi­ous two league games, thrash­ing New­cas­tle United 6-1 and crush­ing Bournemouth 5-1, and Pel­le­grini ad­mit­ted he was not a fan of cagey en­coun­ters like Sun­day’s match.

But he took heart from the de­fen­sive steel that City had dis­played, par­tic­u­larly when United got on top in the sec­ond half.

“I don’t know if we played to our best,” said the Chilean, whose side re­turned to the league sum­mit, above Arse­nal on goal dif­fer­ence, with United two points back in fourth place.

“I al­ways read a lot of me­dia say when teams get points play­ing away they are very tac­ti­cal and very ‘mind games’.

“I don’t like it; it’s not our nor­mal way to do it, but if we need (to), we can do it. One point here is not bad. We con­tinue at the top of the ta­ble.”

City were once again with­out at­tack­ing fig­ure­head Ser­gio Aguero and chief creator David Silva, as well as Samir Nasri, Fabian Delph and Gael Clichy.

Pel­le­grini does not ex­pect Silva to re­turn from an an­kle in­jury for “some days”, while Aguero will not be back un­til late next month, and in their ab­sences, he can only hope that City do not miss them too dearly.

“Maybe with Nasri, Silva, Aguero and Delph we can have other op­tions to start and op­tions for sub­sti­tutes to win the game. We have also Clichy,” he said.

“With such im­por­tant play­ers out, we must try to con­tinue win­ning the games that we are play­ing and hope that we can re­cover all of them as soon as pos­si­ble.” Week­end fix­tures Oct 31: Chelsea v Liver­pool, Manch­ester City v Nor­wich, Swansea v Arse­nal,

Crys­tal Palace v Manch­ester United, New­cas­tle v Stoke, West Brom v Le­ices­ter, Wat­ford v West Ham. Nov 1: Ever­ton v Sun­der­land, Southamp­ton v Bournemouth.

Nov 2: Tot­ten­ham v As­ton Villa. — AFP

Wayne Rooney (right) was over­shad­owed by an­thony Mar­tial in Sun­day’s drab Manch­ester derby.

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