Moyes wants more from Rooney
Published 20/09/2013 | 14:36
Manchester United manager David Moyes wants Wayne Rooney to improve even more on his recent form.
Rooney has returned from a bad gash to his head in sensational style, scoring three goals in a week, including a double in Tuesday's Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen that saw him become only the fourth player in United history to reach 200 goals.
That has inevitably led to speculation United may offer the 27-year-old a contract extension, something ex-manager Sir Alex Ferguson appeared to pave the way for with his conciliatory statements on Thursday - his first comments on the player since revealing he had asked to leave.
Moyes sidestepped that question at his press conference on Friday lunchtime, however, ahead of Sunday's visit to Manchester City, the United boss confirmed he will carry on demanding more of the striker.
"I think we just go step by step," said Moyes.
"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."
However, Rooney's form has underlined the suggestion from the United camp at the start of pre-season that he had returned fitter than he had done for years.
"Wayne was in great shape just before he damaged his hamstring in Thailand," said Moyes.
"I told you that but I don't know if you all believed me.
"We thought (his hamstring) was going to be okay, but it wasn't.
"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."
Rooney is not the only United player who has had an impressive week.
Antonio Valencia has also caught the eye, having switched from the coveted number seven shirt back to his original 25.
He scored only his second goal since April 2012 on Tuesday and Moyes hopes there are a few more to come.
"He's done very well," said the Scot.
"They kept telling me that he needed to change his number, so we got that changed for him because sometimes psychologically it can make a difference to a player.
"Overall, I've been really pleased with him.
"I actually said to him today 'you should be getting yourself seven or eight goals a season regularly'.
"He squinted at me a bit but hopefully he knows what I mean.
"He only got one last season but he's got off to a good start and hopefully he'll get close to the target I'd like to him get this season."
Now Moyes must decide on his line-up for Sunday, and his first encounter with Manuel Pellegrini since the City boss dumped him out of the Champions League qualifiers with his Villarreal side in 2005.
"There is an excitement for any derbies in any big city in the world," said Moyes.
"I've experienced derby games in Glasgow and on Merseyside.
"They are all really important to your own supporters.
"They are important to the players as well but ultimately it's about what happens come the end of the season and how many points you get together to see who is top.
"These points could be really important towards that, but also they may not be."