LEVERKUSEN, Germany (AFP) - Manchester United manager David Moyes has said he wants England striker Wayne Rooney at his battling best and fired up for Wednesday's key Champions League clash at Bayer Leverkusen.
United top Group A with eight points, just one ahead of hosts Leverkusen, and need to beat Sami Hyypia-coached Bayer to confirm their place in the knock-out stages.
Rooney drew criticism in Sunday's disappointing 2-2 Premier League draw at Cardiff City when he kicked Jordon Mutch early on.
Referee Neil Swarbrick showed Rooney a yellow card, but the 28-year-old went on to score United's opening goal, then set up their second for Patrice Evra.
Rooney fired back via Twitter after Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler and pundit Graeme Souness both said he was lucky to avoid a red card, but Moyes said he prefers to see Rooney fired up.
"His form, attitude and temperament have been first class this season, I can't fault it," said Moyes, with Rooney having scored eight goals so far this season in Europe and the Premier League.
"Players sometimes have their moments when they flare up, but I want Wayne to have a fire in his belly, I want him to be tough and aggressive.
"I don't want him kicking anyone, but we are seeing a Wayne Rooney who is in top form and scoring goals.
"It's a big part of his game, he's an aggressive player and he plays with his heart, as well as the skills he has in abundance.
"It's how he played as a boy under me at Everton and it's what a lot of people said might have been missing from his game last season.
"It's certainly not missing now, he's committed for everything and I'd rather have a Wayne Rooney that way than any other way.
"Everyone is recognising the form he is in, he scored a goal and created another one against Cardiff, maybe other things attracted attention rather than his goal.
"That's what happens with Wayne, he gets a lot of attention, but most of it has been on his good form this season." United defender Chris Smalling said Rooney's battling spirit rubs off in the dressing room.
"It's in the way he plays, you can see the hunger and passion, he's a born-winner, he breathes that through the whole squad," said the 24-year-old England defender.
Moyes said United are eager to win their last away group game to wrap up their place in the knock-out phase before their final group match at home to Shakhtar Donetsk in a fortnight.
Bayer are unbeaten at home since losing 2-1 at home to European champions Bayern Munich in March and Moyes is wary of Hyypia's side, who are second only to Bayern in the Bundesliga.
"The group is very open and we have a big job to do here in Germany tomorrow," said the Scotsman.
"We want to try and get the job done, we know we have a hard game against Leverkusen, we want to avoid things being decided by that last game." Centre-back Nemanja Vidic is ruled out with concussion, while striker Robin van Persie is recovering from a groin injury.
The United contingent had an unusual landing into Germany when their first attempt at Cologne/Bonn airport had to be aborted at 400 metres above the runway due to another in-coming plane.
"Landed in Germany....just....I've only just recovered after that choppy landing!", United defender Rio Ferdinand wrote on his Twitter account.