Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has given a vote of confidence to his off-form captain Wayne Rooney ahead of Tuesday's (3 November) Champions League home game against CSKA Moscow. But the Dutchman did not rule out resting England's record goalscorer at some stage "when we think it is better".
The striker has looked below par in recent games and drawn criticism from many supporters who feel he should either be dropped or moved into midfield, allowing French prodigy Anthony Martial to take over as the main attacker in United's 4-2-3-1 formation.
On Monday (2 November), Van Gaal defended his "fantastic" captain, who has scored only two Premier League goals this season, telling a news conference that Rooney has "more credits" than any other player. United have drawn their last four games, the last three all goalless, and won only one of their last six.
They have scored only 15 goals in 11 Premier League games and Martial's header in the 1-1 draw at CSKA two weeks ago was the last time they found the net. Van Gaal said his team was steadily improving, and insisted attacking and defending were linked to each other, so the criticism that United could defend but not attack was untrue.
""It has not always been the big Theatre of Dreams [at Manchester United]," van Gaal said. "I am sorry to say that, but it is logical. Now we are hopefully making history, but it takes time. But I have said that before, I cannot repeat myself otherwise it will be 'Van Gaal asks for time again'... [But] there is always the progress, always the progress."
"We are the best defenders [in] the Premier League and now you are saying you cannot attack," he added. "No it is not true, it is not true, it is only a moment in a process." He acknowledged that United were going through a bad time but said scoring goals would solve that.
"We stood first in the Premier League and now we have a bad period, because it is a bad period – when you don't score it is a bad period. Because football is scoring goals, football is not a process, football is not creating chances, you have to score goals because that makes the difference," van Gaal said.
"We have to improve that and we are busy with that, and I hope that we will score against CSKA Moscow, but I know that it is very difficult because they are very organised and they will play more defensively, like Crystal Palace for example. So it shall be very difficult but still we try to score goals."