London: David Moyes claimed that Manchester United’s refusal to allow Wayne Rooney to leave during the summer has already been vindicated after the forward scored his 200th goal for the club in their 4-2 Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen.
On a night when Manchester City also got their group-stage campaign off to a confident start with a 3-0 win over Viktoria Plzen in Prague, Rooney inspired United with two goals and an all-round display that prompted Moyes to hail him as “world class”.
Invigorated by his own first win in the competition, the United manager admitted that their hopes of lifting the European Cup rest on keeping players of Rooney’s calibre, a feat they achieved during the transfer window despite Chelsea’s attempts to sign the England striker.
“I knew that if you are going to win the Champions League you need to have several world-class players and Wayne certainly comes into that category,” Moyes said.
“You can see what other teams have got and we have got to keep adding to that and keep the ones we have here.”
Rooney declined to discuss his future in a terse post-match television interview in which he also refused to be drawn on whether he had asked to leave Old Trafford, as Alex Ferguson had claimed at the end of last season.
“I’m concentrating on football as I’ve done all summer,” he said.
“I got my head down to get right and ready for the season and scoring goals.”
Asked again about last season, Rooney snapped: “I’ve just told you, I’m concentrating on my football.
“The fans have been brilliant and fantastic with me and it’s great the reception I get, and hopefully I can repay them with goals and performances.
“To score 200 for United is great for me.”
Rooney became only the fourth United player to reach that landmark, following in the illustrious footsteps of Sir Bobby Charlton, Jack Rowley and Denis Law.
The incentive to go on making history is one that Moyes believes should continue to inspire Rooney.
“I remember saying he has got a real chance to be one of the all-time leading goalscorers at this club and if he keeps playing like he did tonight, he’ll get there,” Moyes said. “He was very, very good.
“I think it was something we made him aware of. I wanted to get him back in really good condition and mentally correct when he was ready to play.
He is in a good place himself at the moment. Any centre forward who is scoring goals feels good about himself.”
With Robin van Persie and Antonio Valencia also getting on the scoresheet, Moyes was content with his team’s overall performance as United won their first European game of his tenure at a canter.
“They played ever so well and scored four good goals and maybe could have added to it,” he said.
“I am really satisfied with the performance.”
Van Persie has endorsed Rooney’s reacceptance into the side following the England striker’s protracted transfer wrangle over the summer.
“I love to play alongside Wayne,” said the Dutchman.
“He has a bit of everything. He can go up front, he can play in behind. He can play the short game and the longer game.”
“I was very pleased with our team performance,” added Van Persie. “I thought we played well.
“When we had the ball we were very confident on it and everyone did their bit.”