Van Gaal backs Rooney to find his scoring boots

LONDON • Louis van Gaal refuses to accept that Wayne Rooney is in a scoring slump despite the Manchester United captain going into today's visit to Southampton without a Premier League goal in over five months.

Rooney, who recently became England's leading all-time scorer with 50 goals, has a league drought that stretches back 864 minutes - nearly 15 hours.

But his manager prefers to focus on the hat-trick he bagged in the Champions League against Club Bruges last month rather than his 10-game domestic barren spell.

"He scored against Bruges," said van Gaal. "It doesn't matter if it's the Premier League or the Champions League.

"It does not matter to me who is scoring. But we have to score more.

"When you are so dominant as we are, in all the matches, we have to win these games."

Rooney missed United's victory over Liverpool last weekend with a hamstring injury but looks certain to return against Southampton.

Ronald Koeman has found life more difficult in his second season in charge of the Saints.

His team have won just one of their five Premier League games while their Europa League campaign is already over.

Part of the reason for the slow start was the departure of key players from the team, including Morgan Schneiderlin who moved to Old Trafford this summer.

Koeman, though, insists the home supporters should bear no hard feelings towards the France international.

"I hope the reaction to him is a positive one," he said.

"He did everything for the club, he had a great time in Southampton, he was ready for the next step."

Injury to Luke Shaw in midweek against PSV Eindhoven, however, has denied the left-back a return to his former club. It also means United will have a different defensive unit for the first time this season.

The back four of Shaw, Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind had conceded just three league goals in five games.

Blind may now move to left-back while Marcos Rojo is another option. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 20, 2015, with the headline 'Van Gaal backs Rooney to find his scoring boots'. Print Edition | Subscribe