Manchester United’s players are responsible for their indifferent form this season, and not embattled manager Louis van Gaal, according to captain Wayne Rooney.
Van Gaal’s position has come under scrutiny after a return of four wins from 14 games that has seen United sink to fifth place in the Premier League table and fall out of the Champions League.
But Rooney says that he and his team-mates must take their share of responsibility for United’s struggles as well.
“It’s unfair to say it’s down to the manager — we’re on the pitch,” he said, in comments published by British newspapers on Sunday.
“So the players have to take a lot of responsibility for performances and results. We have to stand up and take criticism when it’s there. We want to win, of course we always want to win, and we’re trying.
“Even when you’re giving 100 percent, it doesn’t always come off and thankfully it did in our last match.”
Rooney was speaking after United’s 3-1 win at second-tier Derby County in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday, in which he opened the scoring with a fine, curling shot that took his tally to six goals in six games.
The 30-year-old is now just six goals short of Bobby Charlton’s United scoring record of 249, which has stood since 1983, and he admits that he is hoping to surpass the milestone before the season is out.
“Of course I’m aware of it,” said the striker, who broke Charlton’s England goal-scoring record in September.
“Like the England record, when I was getting closer, it kept getting mentioned every week so that will probably start again with every goal.
“But it’s great to be mentioned again alongside Bobby’s record and hopefully before the end of the season I can go past that and then kick on again.”
United welcome Stoke City to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Tuesday.