United boss Van Gaal calls on Rooney to haunt Toffees
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal thinks it is about time Wayne Rooney started turning on the magic at his old stomping ground Goodison Park.
For two years, Rooney was the darling of Everton - the local lad from Croxteth who became one of the best footballers on the planet after coming through the club's youth ranks.
All the affection for Rooney on Merseyside drained away in 2004, however, when he left for United in a £30million deal.
Efforts have been made to rebuild the bridges burned by that move but some Evertonians will not forgive the 29-year-old for leaving his childhood club.
Rooney has not enjoyed going back to Goodison for competitive games ahead of today's clash. He normally receives abuse from the home fans and perhaps that is one of the reasons why he has such a poor record there.
Rooney has scored just two goals in his 10 appearances for United at Goodison Park, but Van Gaal has not given up faith in his captain.
"Maybe against Everton his average is not so good, so it's time that he changed that pattern," the United manager said.
"I don't know (why he has struggled), you have to ask Wayne, but I'm a manager who analyses opponents and gives him advice as to how we can disorganise Everton's defence and then maybe he can score."
On the club's pre-season tour of the United States, Rooney backed himself to find the net over 30 times this year, but after seven league appearances his tally stands at one league goal.
Rooney is no longer Van Gaal's main man - Anthony Martial now leads the line - but the United manager thinks his skipper is still playing an important role in a deeper position.
"He's second striker. Our 10 is a second striker," Van Gaal said.
"That's what my preference is but sometimes I need another type in midfield. We'll have to see if he continues with that because Wayne can play in different positions.
"He's scored for us in the Champions League. For me it is not so important who is scoring. We have scored a lot of goals.
"In the beginning your criticism was we don't score goals but now we've scored a lot of goals and you're picking on an individual player.
"He's our captain so that's very important because his influence is bigger than other players."
Like Rooney, Van Gaal is hoping to prove a point on Saturday. The Dutchman is still smarting from the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal.
"It has been an awful two weeks,'' he said.
Van Gaal says everyone at the club - right down to cook Mike Donnelly - must take responsibility for the defeat.
"It is not only the players,'' Van Gaal added. "It is also the staff and all the members of the staff and also my cook Mike because he has a big influence on the atmosphere in the canteen."
FIXTURES: Today: Tottenham v Liverpool, Chelsea v Aston Villa, Crystal Palace v West Ham, Everton v Man Utd, Man City v Bournemouth, Southampton v Leicester, West Brom v Sunderland, Watford v Arsenal. Tomorrow: Newcastle v Norwich. Monday: Swansea v Stoke.