Wayne Rooney: I was fifth-choice penalty taker after Liverpool miss
Wayne Rooney spoke to Gary Neville about Manchester United's title aspirations next season, being captain, and how the penalty-taking duties work under Louis van Gaal.
Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney sat down with former teammate Gary Neville for a special interview on Monday Night Football on Sky Sports. It was a candid and free interview between the former teammates where Rooney discussed a host of topics concerning Manchester United and himself.
Right from answering some quick-fire questions about his favourite movie to reflecting on the season, Rooney was at his best. During the interview, the 29-year-old said that United, who finished fourth this season, are not that far behind Chelsea. The United skipper feels that they are close in terms of challenging the champions next term.
“I think we’re close, there’s no doubt about it. You can see in our performances, we’re out playing teams, dominating possession, and it’s just that final thing of taking our chances," Rooney said. He also added that had United beaten Chelsea, they could have put more pressure on Jose Mourinho's side.
“In the Chelsea game, if I had scored that with my left foot then it could have been a completely different game and might have put them under a bit of pressure – it might have been a lot closer than it’s finished."
When asked about how the penalty-taking duties are distributed at United, he said, "In pre-season, the manager asked me if I would take penalties, so I obviously said I want to take the penalties. So he said he has a structure where if you miss one you're at the back of the queue. So I was like, 'alright'.”
Following his miss against Liverpool, Rooney was relegated to the back of the line. He said, "In the game Robin missed his, it was Robin first, Juan Mata second, Ander Herrera, Ashley Young, me. Because Robin missed [against West Brom], Robin will be at five now."
“Finishing outside the top-four would have been a disaster”
Rooney also talked his 'inspiring' speech about which manager Louis van Gaal had talked about on the Player of the Year awards night. The captain called the team together after they had lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup. United had Liverpool and Manchester City games coming up when Rooney decided to deliver his now famous speech.
Rooney revealed that he told the players about the standards expected from them and to think about the club that they were playing for. The speech seems to have had a good impact as United managed to put in a good run of games and finished fourth.
"The least we wanted was a top-four finish because, after last season, for this football club it would’ve been a disaster if we didn’t make the top four," he said.