Wayne Rooney: Talented youngsters mean future's bright for Manchester United
Published 14/05/2016 | 09:06
Wayne Rooney believes this is an "exciting time" at Manchester United, despite the fact they could miss out on Champions League qualification.
Louis van Gaal's men head into the final weekend of the season fifth in the Barclays Premier League, having passed up the chance to usurp fourth-placed Manchester City on Tuesday.
The 3-2 midweek loss at West Ham means the Red Devils are required to beat Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Sunday and hope neighbours City are defeated at Swansea.
It is a big ask and one which leaves captain Rooney unable to accurately assess a topsy-turvy campaign for the club, especially with the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace following next weekend.
"At the minute I think we're still waiting to see," the 30-year-old said.
"I think it all depends on where we finish in the league before we can properly judge how good a campaign it has been, but hopefully we can get the result we need on Sunday afternoon to guarantee us a top-four finish with the FA Cup final still to come.
"It could be a good season for us in terms of qualifying for the Champions League and winning a trophy or it could be worse if we don't end up doing that, so we have to focus on the final league game before we look ahead to the final."
Failing to reach the Champions League cost David Moyes his job two years ago and there are widespread reports that Van Gaal could follow suit.
The under-fire Dutchman's name was conspicuous by its absence as investors and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward sidestepped the subject of the manager's position following the announcement of the club's third-quarter results.
Woodward was, though, full of praise for the young talent given a chance under Van Gaal - players that make Rooney excited for the future at Old Trafford.
"It's always exciting working with young players," he told United Review. "People forget how young Anthony Martial is (20).
"The club bought him so he hasn't come through the academy, but he's still only a really young lad.
"He's still learning, improving and the same goes with the likes of Memphis Depay, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, so it's an exciting time for the club.
"Hopefully they keep improving as players and it'll be a really bright future for Manchester United."
The most remarkable breakthrough has come from Rashford, who has gone from unknown to one of the country's most highly rated young players in a matter of months.
The 18-year-old has netted seven goals in 16 first-team appearances and numerous reports on Friday suggested the teenager could be elevated into the England senior squad for the final two warm-up matches before Euro 2016.
Roy Hodgson names his provisional squad for the tournament on Monday and national-team skipper Rooney - who knows a thing or two about bursting through as a teenager - has been impressed by the academy graduate.
"I think at the minute he's a young lad and he doesn't need that much advice from me," he said.
"Just let him play and enjoy his football. I'm sure there'll be a time when he does need it from myself, from the manager, from (assistant manager Ryan) Giggsy and from other players.
"But I think the most important thing for him and the team is to just let him go and play and enjoy it."