Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has slammed criticism of Wayne Rooney's form after the England captain produced another lacklustre display in the stale derby draw with Manchester City at Old Trafford. In a game that saw just two shots on target, Rooney was the stand-out performer – for all the wrong reasons – during a disjointed showing.
While England's record goalscorer failed to provide thrust to the United attack, the statistics also laid bare his performance during the 0-0 draw, the third goalless Manchester derby draw in Premier League history. During the 90 minutes, the 30-year-old had fewer touches of the ball than any of his fellow starters (and fewer than 66th minute substitute Juan Mata), lost the ball 28 times and had the worst pass completion rate, 55%.
Rooney's inadequacies were further highlights by Van Gaal's decision to leave Anthony Martial, who has scored five goals this term since joining from Monaco in the summer, on the left flank instead of entrusting him with leading the United attack through the middle. The Dutch coach was questioned over Rooney's form and position following the game but refused to confront the issue.
"I have to talk every week about Rooney, why?" he told a post-match press conference, according to the Manchester Evening News. "Then you have to write it [that Rooney has been underperforming]. It is your opinion. I don't give any more answers about Wayne Rooney. I am sick of them."
Van Gaal did pass comment on Rooney's defensive responsibilities which helped his side keep a clean sheet against the highest scoring team in the top flight this term. The United boss also felt his team should have had a second half-penalty after Ander Herrera went down amid a tangle of legs with Raheem Sterling, appeals for which referee Mark Clattenburg waved away.
"I am only disappointed that we don't have the luck, because I have seen on the video that it was a penalty, but the referee did not give us the benefit of the doubt," he added, according to the official United website. "Of course it is difficult to see.
"I can see it clearly on the video that he does not touch the ball but the legs of Herrera. The luck, we have not had this season, but I can imagine it is not easy for the referee. It is not a big issue but it is like that. It is not the first time I have seen it like this way, but we have to score from our chances."