Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United must strike right balance soon, warns Wayne Rooney

By Damian Spellman

Wayne Rooney has warned Manchester United they cannot afford to keep throwing away points if they are to hit their targets this season.

United squandered 2-0 and 3-2 leads at struggling Newcastle on Tuesday evening to draw 3-3, in the process slipping to sixth place in the Premier League table.

Rooney, who edged to within eight goals of Sir Bobby Charlton's club record of 249 with a double at St James' Park, admitted that his side had to find a balance between attack and defence after a game which went some of the way towards exciting the travelling fans.

He said: "After going 2-0 up, we were in control of the game, and then we've let them back into it. To then get our third goal and concede again was disappointing from us.

"They were silly goals to concede on our behalf and they were avoidable. They have cost us two points so we're disappointed.

"We can't keep going on conceding three goals every game, so we have to work on that and create the chances without giving goals away.

"You can score as many goals as you want, but if you keep conceding goals, then it's a problem. We have to keep trying to get that balance right and keep creating chances, scoring goals and keeping them out."

It all started so well for Rooney and his team-mates when the England captain gave them a ninth-minute lead from the penalty spot after defender Chancel Mbemba was adjudged to have handled Daley Blind's corner and when Jesse Lingard made it 2-0 seven minutes before the break, they looked to be in complete control.

But Georginio Wijnaldum pulled one back before half-time and when Aleksandar Mitrovic levelled from the spot with 67 minutes gone after being hauled down by Chris Smalling, the Magpies were in the ascendancy.

Rooney's well-taken second looked to have secured victory with 11 minutes remaining, but Paul Dummett snatched a point at the death when his 90th-minute piledriver was deflected past keeper David de Gea by the unfortunate Smalling.

United, who have now won just twice in 11 games in all competitions, went into the game with manager Louis van Gaal having admitted even he had been bored by some of their recent performances and at 2-2, there were chants of "Attack, attack, attack" from the supporters high up behind Newcastle keeper Rob Elliot's goal.

Van Gaal blamed the negative tactics adopted by the club's opponents for their recent difficulties after the game, but Rooney insists scoring goals remains their focus as they prepare for Sunday's trip to Liverpool.

Rooney said: "We're always trying to create chances. Obviously we know that's our aim, that's what we work on everyday at the training ground.

"Sometimes it's difficult, but on nights like tonight we did it so we need to keep working and keep trying to improve."

Meanwhile, at least four lower-league clubs will have their home FA Cup ties televised after the BBC and BT Sport announced which fourth-round games they will screen live.

United's Friday night clash at Sky Bet Championship high-fliers Derby will be the first tie broadcast on the BBC on January 29, and it is the only televised fixture not waiting on the outcome of a replay.

Chelsea's Sunday afternoon trip to either Northampton or MK Dons will also be shown on BBC One two days later while BT Sport will be at either Yeovil or Carlisle for the visit of Roberto Martinez's Everton a few hours earlier.

League One Colchester will also be on BT Sport, with either Tottenham or Leicester travelling to Essex on Saturday January 30 at 12:45pm, while the channel will also provide coverage of West Ham's trip to either Exeter or Liverpool that evening.

It means that Eastleigh, the only non-league side remaining in the competition, will once again potentially miss out on a TV windfall if they can defeat Bolton in their replay, with the winner facing Leeds at home in the fourth round.

Van Gaal's United will continue their live televised FA Cup streak, which includes every tie they have played since facing Exeter back in 2005.

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