Wayne Rooney has bluntly declared that his side’s display in the Manchester derby on Sunday – from which only he emerged with any credit from the United camp – was simply “not good enough”.
Rooney’s evolution from disenchanted player to talisman was one of the most remarkable aspects of United’s 4-1 defeat at the Etihad and the striker articulated the side’s failings in even more depth than his manager, David Moyes, who will discuss the loss this afternoon.
After being thumped by a City side whom Pablo Zabaleta hinted took inspiration from Rooney’s pre-match declaration that Liverpool were more significant opposition to United, the 27-year-old said: “We know we have to improve on that and stop giving these sloppy goals away and try to capitalise on some of our good play, which I thought there was – even if it was too late in the game.
“To concede two goals so quickly after each other [in the second half] killed the game. Fair enough, City had some good play and deserved the victory. But we have given sloppy goals away. As I said before, it is not good enough.”
Rooney said that he was “thankful” to have the opportunity to face Liverpool so soon, in tomorrow night’s Capital One Cup third-round tie at Old Trafford for which Luis Suarez is available, though after deliberation Moyes appears to be leaning towards using squad players while opposite number Brendan Rodgers will field a strong side.
Javier Hernandez seems likely to lead the line for United tomorrow with Shinji Kagawa behind him, seeking to persuade Moyes of his own merits. Wilfried Zaha and Luis Nani may operate on the flanks. “It is the ideal game. It is a different competition but any game against Liverpool is a big game, whether it is a friendly or [League] Cup or Premier League. It is still massive,” Rooney said.
Zabaleta, whose City side face Wigan Athletic in the cup tonight, said he had watched Rooney’s response to Sunday’s game. “He was one of their main players. He tried more than anyone else in the Manchester United team,” he said. “That means for him, when he says that Liverpool is still the big game, I saw him working so hard, so probably it proves this game is just as important to him and United as Liverpool.
“When we scored the third goal, everybody thought it could be another chance to [win 6-1 again, like two years ago at Old Trafford]. Just for a moment I thought about the 6-1 game. When the game is like that, and you see the team playing like that against a team like Manchester United, you know it is a special one.”
Samir Nasri, whose performance revealed quite how liberated he has been by the departure of former manager Roberto Mancini, said he had sought to compensate for ducking out of a defensive wall against United at the Etihad last season – a failing which allowed the visitors to win 3-2.
“It’s a different feeling from last year, and a different feeling for me as well,” the Frenchman said. “Last year I was involved in the third goal in a bad way, so this was a little revenge. I just want to share this moment with our fans. [It] was a little bit sad because we were losing 2-0 and came back, but in the last minute Robin [van Persie] scored that free-kick. Every big player should be great in these games. We showed what good players we have in our team because we put in a very good performance.”