Belfast Telegraph

Rooney backs Di Maria to come good

Wayne Rooney has one message for Angel di Maria's doubters: form is temporary, class is permanent.

United beat off strong competition from some of Europe's biggest clubs to sign Di Maria from Real Madrid last summer, but after a bright start, the £59.7milllion man has faded fast.

The low point of his United career came on Saturday when, after a poor first-half performance, he was substituted at half-time during the 2-0 win over Sunderland.

The Argentinian looked a pale imitation of the man who lit up the World Cup, made 17 assists for Real Madrid and was named man of the match in the Champions League final last year.

Rooney is convinced Di Maria will be a success at Old Trafford, though.

"It was one of those days that every footballer has," the United captain said when asked about Di Maria's performance.

"He's a great player. You don't lose your talent overnight. Hopefully he'll get back to his best and start giving some great performances.

"I think he will figure it out, we all have to do that sometimes. You have to come to it in your own way and I am sure he will be a big player for us between now and the end of the season."

Once referee Roger East had taken the controversial decision to dismiss Wes Brown instead of John O'Shea after awarding a penalty to United, it seemed only a matter of time before the hosts secured victory.

Rooney dispatched the spot-kick and added a second goal six minutes from time after Costel Pantilimon spilled Adnan Januzaj's shot into his path.

The goals were Rooney's first in the Premier League since Boxing Day, although his ability to find the net has been inhibited in recent weeks as he has been playing in midfield.

The England captain did not use Van Gaal's complaint that he does not have a 20-goals-a-season striker as motivation.

"No, not at all. Everyone knows I've played midfield for the majority of the season but my record shows that I score goals so I'm not worried about that at all," Rooney said.

"I was obviously pleased that the manager played me up front and delighted to get the two goals.

"I respect his decision wherever he wants to play me. Hopefully I can kick on from here."

East came in for severe criticism for sending Brown off when it was clear O'Shea pulled Falcao back before the former England defender made contact with the striker.

Sunderland have decided to appeal against the red card and hope that Brown will be available for Tuesday's match at Hull.

"I think it was a penalty but I just don't think it was Wes," said Rooney, who was stood a few yards away when Falcao hit the turf.

"It was tough but I would imagine it will get rescinded. In our view it was a clear penalty."

The Sunderland fans may have been unhappy with East for dismissing Brown, but it was the home supporters who were restless in the first half.

United's build-up play was often laboured and their final ball poor.

Some fans started yelling "Attack! Attack! Attack!" but Rooney thinks they must be patient at times.

"The fans here are always brilliant - they want us attacking at every opportunity but you can't do that all the time," he said.

"Sometimes you have to work the opposition to tire them out which towards the end is how you win games."

Van Gaal was happy with the win but refused to hand out too many plaudits.

It was suggested to him that Ashley Young had played well on the wing, but he was reluctant to lavish too much praise on the former Aston Villa man.

"He showed a lot of confidence today and I hope he can continue that. One game is not enough," the Dutchman said.

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