London: Manchester United manager David Moyes has suffered a stuttering start to life at Old Trafford, but it could have been far worse for the Scot if he had failed to retain the services of striker Wayne Rooney.
The England forward was again the central figure as United brushed aside relegation-threatened West Ham United 3-1 at home on Saturday, dropping deep to act as the fulcrum for the side and bursting forward to provide two assists.
Rooney had been coveted by English Premier League rivals Chelsea prior to the close of the transfer window in September after he admitted to his frustrations at being played in midfield by former boss Alex Ferguson last season.
Moyes, though, managed to repel Chelsea’s advances and keep Rooney, whose form has been a big boost in the ongoing absence of senior players Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Robin van Persie and midfield pivot Michael Carrick.
“Do you know what I see more than anything in Wayne? I see leadership in him. I see somebody who wants to take responsibility for the team,” Moyes was quoted as saying by British media.
“I see somebody who cares for how he plays and how the team plays. More than anything, that is what I see from Wayne.
“He is getting to an age now where he realises he is not a boy any more. He is one of the senior men in the team. He is actually on the verge of being one of the great legends at this club.”
Moyes gave Rooney his first-team break as a 16-year-old when the pair were at Everton, the striker showing his prodigious talent with a sublime winning goal against then champions Arsenal to announce his arrival.
The pair, though, fell out after Moyes sued Rooney over comments published in the striker's autobiography and many believed that the arrival of the Scot at Old Trafford would signal the end of the Englishman's career at the club.
All water under the bridge now, though, with the striker's performance this season one of Moyes' few successes so far.
Moyes has suffered sharp criticism following a 4-1 loss to rivals Manchester City, home defeats to Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion and Everton, a failed search for a central midfielder and the costly signing of misfiring Marouane Fellani.
Meanwhile, United's big-money signing Marouane Fellaini faces several weeks on the sidelines after having an operation on his wrist, manager Moyes said on Monday.
Moyes, who was also Fellaini's boss at Everton before both moved to Old Trafford prior to the start of the season, said the 26-year-old was unlikely to play again before the end of January.
“We think he will probably be out for six weeks. But there's a chance it could be shorter than that,” he said.