David Moyes: Rooney Is Becoming United’s Leader

He wanted to leave in the summer. Now he is developing into Manchester United’s “leader”.

And as David Moyes starts finding his feet as Sir Alex ­Ferguson’s successor, he could
not be more grateful to Wayne Rooney.

The England star was integral to United’s early blitz, setting up Antonio Valencia’s opener, then tapping in the third, either side of a typical Robin van Persie finish.

But as far as Moyes was concerned, even more important was Rooney’s role as three enforced interval changes disrupted United’s rhythm and offered Martin Jol’s men an unlikely way back into the game.

Rooney did inadvertently get his name on the scoresheet again, deflecting Alex Kacaniklic’s effort past David De Gea.

But, for Moyes, Rooney could not have done more. “Wayne’s a big leader in the team now,” said the United manager.

“He’s desperate for the team to be successful. Obviously a successful team helps him as well.

“But he’s got leadership ­qualities and he’s a man when he’s on the pitch.

“Even on Saturday, we felt as though Adnan Januzaj needed to drop in, so I needed to pull him out for the last 15 minutes just to make sure we didn’t do anything stupid. He understands that and he’s at an age now he can see that as well.”

Maybe falling out with Fergie will prove the making of the man. Rooney is now a true team player.

Not that United needed to be anything special to extend their unbeaten streak to seven in all competitions, as Fulham fans switched their boos from Jol to Bryan Ruiz.

Nevertheless, their movement up front and clinical edge was too much for Jol’s befuddled defensive line, with the Fulham boss conceding: “Sometimes I feel we can play without Brede Hangeland – and then the next week it is different!”

Phil Jones, whose versatility saw him anchoring midfield, said: “The front four were terrific, causing all sorts of problems and we could and should have been five or six up at half-time.

“That sort of performance has definitely been coming. We’ve been saying for the past few weeks that someone is going to be on the end of a battering and it could have been that in the first half.

“We knew we needed to go on a run and we are slowly starting to get a really good momentum.”

Moyes added: “We’re improving but we know we have to. There are some signs we’re coming to it.

“I have always felt like it’s my team and my club. I felt that straight away. When you become the manager, that’s the job.

“Of course I know what people mean when they ask that – it’s obviously Sir Alex’s team and his players.

“But they’ve got a new manager and they know they have to perform as well. And a lot of them are beginning to show good form and good signs.” Few such signs for Fulham, whose every step forwards seems to be followed by two in the opposite direction.

Jol, who insisted his job is not under threat, defended Ruiz.

The Costa Rican is playing with a painful back condition and Jol revealed he had to be consoled afterwards.

Jol said: “When it’s me, I can cope with it because I know football. But it is hard for Bryan.

“In Costa Rica, he is a hero. Here, they boo him off the park. That is very frustrating and very disappointing for me because I want my supporters to stay behind my players.

“He is an unbelievably nice person so I had to whisper a few words in his ear.

“People have to get used to him and if they don’t then we have a problem because I need Bryan Ruiz.

“Maybe they don’t need me but they need Ruiz, believe me.”

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