SOUTHAMPTON (AFP) – Louis van Gaal refuses to accept that Wayne Rooney is in a scoring slump despite the Manchester United captain going into Sunday s visit to Southampton without a Premier League goal in over five months.
Rooney, who recently became England s leading all-time international goalscorer, has not hit the net in a Premier League game for United since the first weekend in April, although his club manager prefers to focus on the hat-trick the striker scored in the Champions League at Bruges last month rather than his 10-game domestic barren spell.
“He scored against Bruges. He scored,” said van Gaal. “It doesn t matter if it s the Premier League or the Champions League. I was very happy when we scored more goals.
“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.
“He has a range of scoring goals. You can count all the goals he s made. In my memory, Rooney has scored a lot.
“He s nearly the record holder in the Premier League so I hope he will beat that record but I have to wait and see, like you do.”
Such a quest is still some distance off, Rooney s 185 career Premier League goals placing him two behind second placed Andy Cole and way behind all-time leading scorer Alan Shearer and his 260.
Rooney, 29, needs to score 76 times to overtake Shearer and, bearing in mind that the past five seasons in total have seen the United man score “only” 79 goals, van Gaal may be disappointed in his wish.
Rooney missed United s victory over Liverpool last weekend with a hamstring injury, but looks certain to return against a Southampton side who van Gaal expects, like defending champions Chelsea, to improve drastically as the season progresses.
“Wayne is back, it was a minor injury and we didn t want to take risks,” said van Gaal. “But he has had training and treatment and I think he can start.
“Southampton have a very good team, not worse than last year, but they started very badly. It s the same with Chelsea, but they shall come back, as we did last year. I don t think is a normal position for them.”