Wayne Rooney: Top four United’s to lose

Wayne Rooney knows Champions League qualification is Manchester United’s to lose, making this weekend’s clash with Aston Villa all the more important.

Wayne Rooney: Top four United’s to lose

Louis van Gaal’s side sit fourth in the Premier League as the season enters the closing stages, boasting a five-point cushion over the chasing pack after winning so impressively at Liverpool before the international break.

Juan Mata’s brace earned United a deserved 2-1 victory at Anfield to give them an impressive buffer over the Reds, as well as fellow top-four contenders Southampton and Tottenham.

However, Rooney is well aware how quickly things can change, admitting nothing less than victory will suffice as they face Aston Villa on Saturday.

“Yes it was (a six-pointer at Liverpool), but that means nothing if we don’t beat Aston Villa on Saturday,” the United captain said.

“Obviously Arsenal play Liverpool as well, so if we can get the win against Villa that will be an even better result than Liverpool was for us.

“I think there are still eight games left. We are in a good position at the minute so it’s in our own hands, so have to make sure we do it.”

Rooney and several of his United team-mates only returned home from international duty on Wednesday afternoon after a technical fault on the England team plane delayed their departure from Turin. It meant an extra night in Italy, where it looked like they would be leaving after a night to forget as Graziano Pelle punished the Three Lions’ poor first-half display.

However, Andros Townsend’s wonder strike saw England secure a 1-1 draw following a much-improved performance after half-time, when Roy Hodgson’s bold substitutions paid off — as did his decision to partner Rooney with full debutant Harry Kane.

The England skipper had spent the first half in midfield role as Hodgson tinkered with his side, although he is not allowing that experimentation to be an excuse.

“I think it’s important in tournament football you might need that, so that’s what we were doing,” Rooney said.

“We were trying a few different things out because you never know with injuries and suspensions in tournament football, the best time to do it is obviously in the friendlies.

“Obviously I haven’t played in midfield for a few weeks. I had a few chances and could have scored, so I felt I played better when I went up front.”

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