Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal refused to take questions about Wayne Rooney’s form after his captain endured an afternoon to forget in yesterday’s goalless derby with Manchester City.
Rooney, who turned 30 on Saturday, had the fewest touches, the worst passing accuracy and lost possession more times than any other United outfield player. He also suffered a first-half head injury that needed stapling up at pitch-side as he failed to add to his two Premier League goals this season.
It made for a frustrating occasion for Van Gaal, who felt his team should have been awarded a penalty and accused City of playing for the draw that proved enough to return them to the division’s summit.
“I have to talk every week about Rooney, why?” said the Dutchman, whose team remain fourth in the top flight, two points behind City.
“You have your opinion; write it. I don’t give any more answers about Wayne Rooney. I am sick of them.
“They [City] have the right to play compact and they have done it and they have a fantastic team also on the counter-attack, but we have prevented that also in a very professional way so I cannot complain.”
City manager Manuel Pellegrini admitted curtailing his attacking instincts, with striker Sergio Aguero and playmaker David Silva injured, and taking the point that lifted them above Arsenal on goal difference.
“We are back at the top of the table. It was a very tactical game. I prefer to play in another way but we defended well,” he said.
“If you can’t win, then don’t lose it. People have said that we can’t defend and in the second half we did very well. I am satisfied with a point but I don’t like to play this way.”
It was not until the 82nd minute that a match devoid of this fixture’s customary sparkle witnessed its first effort on target, when United goalkeeper David de Gea saved a shot from City winger Jesus Navas.
United substitute Jesse Lingard then hit the bar with a deft volley from forward Anthony Martial’s chip, before central defender Chris Smalling went the closest of any player to breaking the deadlock, his low shot from a trademark Marouane Fellaini knock-down drawing a smart low save from England No1 Joe Hart.
Result: Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City