Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United will be ready to challenge for title, says Wayne Rooney

By Paul Hirst

Wayne Rooney insists Manchester United will mount a serious title challenge next season.

A difficult first season of the Louis van Gaal era ended with a somewhat underwhelming 0-0 draw at Hull on Sunday.

Despite a disappointing run of one win in their final six games, United achieved their aim of Champions League qualification - but Rooney is hungry for so much more.

The United skipper is used to challenging for titles and that is what he wants to be doing next season.

Van Gaal's team finished 17 points behind this year's winners Chelsea, but Rooney insists the gap between the two teams is capable of being bridged, so long as the club make the right moves in the transfer market.

"I believe we are (close)," the United captain said.

"You take the first 10 games and I think we had 13 points.

"When you consider from after that amount of games to where we've finished, we've probably got as many points after that as anyone else.

"I think we're close, there's no doubt about it. You can see in our performances, we're outplaying teams, dominating possession, and it's just that final thing of taking our chances.

"In the (defeat at) Chelsea, if I had scored that chance with my left foot then it could have been a completely different game and might have put them under a bit of pressure - it might have been a lot closer than it's finished.

"As a group of players, myself and the manager - we all believe we're close and I'm sure with a player or two in the summer we'll have a good chance of going for the title."

A quarter-final exit to Arsenal in the FA Cup - the one trophy he is yet to win - remains a sore point for Rooney.

But given the turbulent times at Old Trafford over the last two years, Rooney is reasonably satisfied with the season as a whole.

"There was a change of manager, coaches, and a lot of new players coming in - so realistically we knew it was going to be a tough ask for us to go and win the Premier League," the striker added.

"The least we wanted was a top-four finish because, after last season, for this football club it would've been a disaster if we didn't make the top four.

"It would have been nice to win some silverware - that's why the Arsenal defeat in the cup was so disappointing - but in terms of the Premier League the most vital thing for us was getting in the top four."

Meanwhile, Radamel Falcao thanked United supporters as he bade them farewell following his unsuccessful loan spell at Old Trafford.

United thought they had pulled off one of the deals of the season last summer when they signed Falcao on a season-long loan from Monaco.

But eight months on, the club decided against signing the striker on a permanent basis after he scored just four goals in 29 appearances. Falcao's wife Lorelei Taron posted a selfie on Instagram of her husband and their two young children in an airport departure lounge on Monday, the day after the club confirmed the 29-year-old would be leaving.

And the striker himself took to the picture-sharing website to give thanks to the fans who had backed him through his difficult year at Old Trafford.

"I wanna thank Manchester United and all its fans for every word and gesture of support they gave me in every match," the striker wrote underneath a picture of him celebrating in an United shirt.

"I'll never forget it!!"

Belfast Telegraph


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