Belfast Telegraph

Capital One Cup: Viv Anderson backing Manchester United's Wayne Rooney to shrug off stuttering form with Middlesbrough cup visit

By Nick Mashiter

Viv Anderson has tipped Wayne Rooney to recapture his form and insisted he has nothing to prove.

The former Manchester United defender reckons the England captain can handle the criticism after his stuttering start to the season.

Rooney has been accused of under-performing and has scored just twice in nine Premier League outings for United this term.

He has netted six goals in 14 games in all competitions ahead of tonight's Capital One Cup visit of Middlesbrough and Anderson, who played for United between 1987 and 1991, believes Rooney must continue to play.

He said: "His record speaks for itself and he doesn't have to prove anything to anybody. I would pick Wayne Rooney every time because on any given day he could score a hat-trick. He'll only get through this spell by playing.

"If you're going through a bad time at a big club, you are always going to get stick. That's part and parcel of being captain of Man United and England.

"When you don't score 20 goals on a regular basis some people are going to ask questions. He has been through this many, many times and he'll come out the other side."

Boss Louis van Gaal has said he is sick of answering questions on Rooney's form despite the 30-year-old failing to have a shot on target in Sunday's 0-0 derby draw with Manchester City.

Despite Rooney's struggles United are fourth in the Premier League and just two points off leaders City and Anderson believes they must win a trophy.

"Manchester United cannot go two years without winning something, they are expected to win trophies. Louis van Gaal will expect to win something this season," added Anderson.

Former England international Anderson was assistant manager at Middlesbrough to former United team-mate Bryan Robson between 1994 and 2001 and helped them to the final of the League Cup in 1997, when they lost to Leicester.

Boro, under Aitor Karanka, are currently fourth in the Championship and Anderson believes they could shock United.

He said: "They will have half an eye on the league games so he (Van Gaal) might give a few of the squad players a run out. That might be Middlesbrough's opportunity."

United have not lifted the League Cup since 2010, and Juan Mata is determined to end that drought. The midfielder expects a stern test tonight.

"Last season they were close to being promoted and this year they're again up there," Mata said. "It's going to be a good test for us. I've never won this tournament, I hope we can make it this season."

Antonio Valencia is a doubt, while United are still without Luke Shaw (leg) and Paddy McNair (liver).

Marouane Fellaini, Daley Blind, Memphis Depay and Jesse Lingard could be handed starts.

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