Sunday 23 April 2017

Smalling sure that Rooney will end drought

Defender doesn’t think captain is suffering a crisis of confidence

A disappointed Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford
A disappointed Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford
Memphis Depay holds the ball away from Newcastle United’s Vurnon Anita

Chris Smalling is sure Wayne Rooney's confidence remains high despite his recent goal drought for Manchester United.

Rooney stretched his goalless scoring streak to 10 United matches on Saturday as Louis van Gaal's men drew 0-0 at home to Newcastle.

The United captain has not scored since April 4 although he was perhaps unlucky to have one chalked off for a very tight offside call against the Magpies.

Smalling believes Rooney and his team-mates did not have the rub of the green against Newcastle and is sure the captain is not suffering from a crisis of confidence.

"No, I think if you see in his play, he is running in behind and he is giving himself opportunities," Smalling said when asked if Rooney's confidence had dipped.

"I think we probably had double figures in terms of chances, not just to Wayne but for the whole team.

"It's just a case of one of those falling in, but the majority of the team is getting those opportunities so if we keep creating those chances, they will come eventually."

Rooney tested Tim Krul from 25 yards shortly after his disallowed goal, but did little else to suggest he was going to break his duck for the season.

Despite his troubles in the box, Rooney is having a big influence in other areas - most notably in helping Memphis Depay find his feet at Old Trafford following his £25million move from PSV Eindhoven.

"Wayne Rooney helps me a lot," the Dutch forward said.

"He has a lot of experience. He already knows everything about the football world so if I have any questions I can ask him."

Rooney was not the only one to miss chances against Newcastle.

Juan Mata ballooned a volley into the Stretford End in the second half and Smalling's header struck a post in the dying minutes.

Depay also rounded Krul when put through but failed to score.

The Dutchman, who scored his first two goals for the club against Club Brugge on Tuesday, admits he and his team-mates have to be more ruthless.

"It was a frustrating afternoon," he said.

"We started great and sharp and we created some chances but didn't finish them. The second half also we created some more chances but again we didn't finish it so that was the frustration.

"When you look back you have to say it was one of those days but we have to start finishing. I could have finished a couple of chances but I didn't and I have to work on that."


While United left Old Trafford disappointed, Newcastle headed back up to the north-east happy having answered some of the critics who condemned their supposed defensive frailty following the 2-0 defeat to Swansea last week.

Jack Colback feels the critics were too quick to jump on Newcastle following the loss at the Liberty Stadium and their 2-2 draw against Southampton on the opening weekend of the season.

"It's quite scary really how quickly this season that everyone is being criticised, it's daft, but that's the nature of the game we are in," the Newcastle midfielder said.

"Everyone is quick to jump on the negativity but as players you have to focus. We were disappointed last week, but we focused quickly on the next game and we have got a point."

Steven Taylor, who along with Fabricio Coloccini performed superbly to repel United's relentless attacking player, praised the impact of new manager Steve McClaren.

"Everything has changed," said the defender, who has played under 12 different managers during his 12 years at the club.

"There are new methods here. The style has changed, and so has the training regime.

"It's a whole new look to Newcastle and it has been needing that - a bit of a fresh look to it.

"The main thing is that he's given the lads confidence.

"Everyone has had a clean slate."

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