Gary Neville: How Wayne Rooney has become Man United’s silent dominator
Gary Neville has been impressed by Wayne Rooney's role for Manchester United so far this season
Gary Neville has singled out Wayne Rooney for special praise in the wake of Manchester United’s thumping 4-2 derby win over Manchester City on Sunday.
The Manchester United captain had only 35 touches of the ball during the Old Trafford clash – the lowest the striker has ever had in the Premier League with the Red Devils.
However, Neville believes that that figure is a result of a stroke of tactical genius from manager Louis van Gaal.
I think Louis van Gaal must have him on a lead in training
Neville says that Rooney’s off-the-ball runs and tactical discipline during Sunday’s derby triumph opened up crucial space for his team-mates as they secured a convincing victory over their local rivals.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Neville said: “I came away from the game thinking: ‘Was he anonymous? How did he play? We never mentioned him much during the game.’ He wasn’t really talked about that much.
“Having played with Wayne Rooney for 10 years, having worked with him for England for three or four years, I can say he is a street football player who can chase the ball, wants to be involved and wants to be everywhere on the pitch.
“But I think Louis van Gaal must have him on a lead in training, and says to him: ‘That’s not your position, that’s not what you’re there to do’.”
The former United defender praised manager Van Gaal for managing to get Rooney to stick to his game-plan.
He continued: “You used to see him charging down channels, dropping into midfield, if he hasn’t had the ball for five minutes you used to see him drop to get it because that’s the type of player he is,” Neville continued.
“I talk about this philosophy and the attacking discipline of Manchester United, and you can tell the story through Wayne Rooney. That is a big achievement by Louis van Gaal.
“To get that player to play like that is a fantastic achievement. Sunday was a silent domination of City’s centre-backs.”
England captain Rooney has scored 12 goals and made five assists in 28 Premier League games for Manchester United so far this season.