Wayne Rooney defends under-fire teammate Angel Di Maria after Sunderland performance
Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney came out and defender teammate Angel Di Maria's after the Argentine came under a lot of criticism following his dismal performance against Sunderland on Saturday. The match was perhaps the low-point of Di Maria’s short United career and the winger was substituted at half-time during United’s 2-0 win at Old Trafford.
United fended off stiff competition from some of Europe's biggest clubs to sign Di Maria from Real Madrid last summer and had to shell out a Premier League record transfer fee of £59.7 million to land their man. Despite having a bright start, Di Maria seems to have faded out fast.
The Argentine has lately looked a shadow of the player who impressed at the World Cup, made 17 assists for Real Madrid and was adjudged the man of the match in the Champions League final last year.
Di Maria will hopefully be back to his best soon: Rooney
However, Rooney is convinced that Di Maria’s class will eventually shine through and the crafty winger will be a success at Old Trafford.
Rooney said, “It was one of those days that every footballer has.
“He's a great player. You don't lose your talent overnight. Hopefully, he'll get back to his best and start giving some great performances.
“I think he will figure it out, we all have to do that sometimes. You have to come to it in your own way and I am sure he will be a big player for us between now and the end of the season.”
United’s attacks in the first half of the match lacked creativity and purpose with the Old Trafford crowd making their feelings known, shouting, ‘Attack! Attack! Attack!’ Rooney has urged the fans to be patient saying, “The fans here are always brilliant – they want us attacking at every opportunity, but you can't do that all the time.
“Sometimes you have to work the opposition to tire them out which towards the end is how you win games.”
Rooney happy to get back to preferred striking role
After a goal-less first half, the turning point of Saturday’s match came when referee Roger East took the controversial decision to send off Wes Brown instead of John O'Shea after awarding a penalty to United. Rooney calmly converted the spot-kick and added a second goal late in the match after he ounced on a chance when Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon spilled Adnan Januzaj's shot.
The goals were Rooney’s first in the Premier League since Boxing Day when goals seemed to have dried up for the England captain after being shifted to the midfield by manager Louis van Gaal. The Englishman has found himself restored back to his preferred position lately after United were accused of being uninspiring infront of goal and with Robin van Persie out injured.
Rooney, however, decided not to read too much into Van Gaal's complaint that United lacks a 20-goals-a-season striker.
The 29-year-old said, “No, not at all. Everyone knows I've played midfield for the majority of the season but my record shows that I score goals so I'm not worried about that at all.
“I was obviously pleased that the manager played me up front and delighted to get the two goals. I respect his decision wherever he wants to play me. Hopefully I can kick on from here.”