By Manchester correspondent Alex Stevens
Wayne Rooney has revealed the debilitating effects of the incessant criticism directed at Manchester United this season.
England’s record goalscorer has admitted how difficult it is to handle the jibes thrown his way, and revealed it has been especially hard for his family to take.
United have gone six games without a win in all competitions and slipped out of the Premier League top four last weekend following last Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Norwich.
The 20-time champions have been criticised for their cautious style of play under Louis van Gaal, who walked out of his pre-match press conference on Wednesday after a tense five minutes in which he accused the media of publishing false reports on his Manchester United future.
Rooney has scored only two Premier League goals this season amid growing calls for him to lose his apparent untouchable status under Van Gaal.
“It’s not nice, obviously, getting criticised every week, every game,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s tough for the players to deal with. We are proud people, we are proud to play for Man United and when it’s not going right then it is hard to take.
“We all have families and sometimes there’s a lot of stuff that gets written that’s not nice for our families, for your family to see. It’s okay for me to deal with, but for people in my family who aren’t used to it, it’s tough for them.
“That’s part of football. It’s part of being a footballer these days. I know my performances can be better, I know that. I’m working hard to improve that and try and do my best for the team.”
Rooney has insisted that the United players are fully behind Van Gaal and will fight hard to turn their season around.
Speaking ahead of the Boxing Day clash at Stoke, Rooney said: “You have a lot of people talking about things they believe are happening but in reality a lot of people who are writing that stuff don’t actually know what’s happening.
“We are working hard, we are fighting with the manager to try and get the results and turn this season around.”
However, Rooney has admitted that confidence has taken a hit at the club since beating Watford over a month ago.
“The last few results haven’t been great for us and it’s frustrating, and as a player it’s hard to deal with so we have to be strong together and try and get the better results we need,” Rooney added.
“Of course we haven’t won games in the last few weeks and it’s normal the confidence will be a bit lower. We need to try and lift it because we have tough games coming up.
“We need to be at our best to win them. As a group of players we know we can do better.
“We regularly have meetings with the players. Myself, and the other senior players in the squad, and with the manager – we are working together and trying to come to the best solution to help us win football matches.”