Manchester United manager David Moyes reckons Wayne Rooney had still to find his best form despite his impressive recent displays for the English champions.
MANCHESTER: Manchester United manager David Moyes reckons Wayne Rooney had still to find his best form despite his impressive recent displays for the English champions.
The England striker returned from a severe gash to the head by scoring three goals in a week including two in Tuesday’s Champions League victory against Bayer Leverkusen, a double that saw him become only the fourth United player to reach a tally of 200 goals for the club.
Rooney’s recent goal-spree had led to speculation United may offer the 27-year-old forward a contract extension with former manager turned club director Alex Ferguson, praising his work on Thursday.
Moyes, who oversaw the start of Rooney’s professional career at Everton, was coy about the forward’s future.
Speaking on Friday ahead of Sunday’s derby against Manchester City, Moyes said: “I think we just go step by step. If he could score another two goals at the weekend that would be the next step forward wouldn’t it?
“He’s played really well and we want him to maintain that. If anything I’m asking him to step up again. I want him to keep getting better.”
Moyes added: “Wayne was in great shape just before he damaged his hamstring in Thailand. I told you (the media) that but I don’t know if you all believed me.
“We thought (his hamstring) was going to be okay, but it wasn’t,” the Scottish manager explained. “We kept him working really hard and he was in really good shape.
“I was really impressed with the condition he was in and the work he did in pre-season.
“He is getting the fruits of that. He’s worked hard and is showing everyone exactly what he can do.”
Moyes said his previous experience of derby games, having played for Celtic, part of Glasgow’s ‘Old Firm’ along with fallen Scottish giants Rangers, and later as manager of Everton, whose match with city rivals Liverpool is always a passionate encounter, would benefit him at the weekend.
“I think because I’ve experienced in derby games in Glasgow and Merseyside I think I know what to expect.
“But every derby in every big city wherever you go is important to whatever team you support. I understand how important it is to the Manchester United supporters.
“I think there is an excitement with a derby in any big city. They are all really important to your supporters and to the players as well.
“Everyone realises the passion that is there between the supporters, the commitment the players are required to show in the game.
“You can go into the derby in good form but it doesn’t necessarily give you an idea of the way it can go. They can go either way.
“Ultimately it’s what happens come the end of the season and how many points you get together to see who is top.”
United striker Danny Welbeck remains doubtful for Sunday’s match with a knee injury, while defenders Phil Jones (ankle) and Rafael da Silva (hamstring) will both miss the trip to Eastlands.