Tuesday 25 July 2017

Wayne Rooney on Liverpool team-talk: I asked Van Gaal and staff to leave the dressing room

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has revealed he asked Louis van Gaal and the backroom team to leave the changing room before delivering a pre-match speech against Liverpool this season.

Louis van Gaal guided the Red Devils to Champions League finish with a fourth place finish, which for periods during a topsy-turvy campaign looked out of reach.

The crunch game many believe in the upturn in form resulted after a 2-1 success in Anfield courtesy of a brace from Juan Mata.

After defeating Champions league hopefuls Spurs in the previous league encounter, the three points against Brendan Rodgers' side effectively ended their aspirations in Europe's premier club competition and in the middle of a six-game winning run that included a win over Manchester City.

Some of Rooney's team-mates have paid tribute to a stirring team-talk from the captain prior to the match against their rivals and speaking to Gary Neville as part of a Sky Sports season review programme, said he has given a number of team-talks since Van Gaal handed him the skipper's armband.

"I've done a few to be honest throughout the season," he told Neville.

"A few of the players spoke about that one in particular [Liverpool]. We got beaten at home in the FA Cup to Arsenal and then we had Liverpool coming up, Man City coming up.

"I knew we had some tough games so I felt, as a reminder to the players the standards we need to set at this club.

Wayne Rooney scores Manchester United's opening goal from the penalty spot in their Premier League clash with Sunderland at Old Trafford. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Wayne Rooney scores Manchester United's opening goal from the penalty spot in their Premier League clash with Sunderland at Old Trafford. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

"I asked the manager could I do it without any staff.

"I just felt it would be easier for some of the players to speak a little more differently if they wanted to.

"They took it obviously and listened to it and we went on a good run from then.

Rooney spoke to his former team-mate about his new role up front under Van Gaal, "trying to stay high, trying to stretch the pitch," and making runs in behind the opposition defence while also revealed the manager's unusual penalty strategy.

He [van Gaal] has a structure where if you miss one you’re at the back of the queue,” Rooney said, who finds himself in that very position after his miss at Anfield.

“In pre-season he asked me if I would take penalties, so I obviously said I want to take the penalties.

“I got two penalties on the tour in the US, one against LA Galaxy and one against Roma, and I’ve never felt that pressure in a pre-season game, to be honest.”

Watch the full video below:

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