Post-hattrick, Rooney open to handling criticism

Bruges (Belgium), Aug 27 (IANS) Manchester United Football Club captain Wayne Rooney said he is strong enough to handle criticism after he ended his 10-game goal drought against Belgium’s Club Brugge in a Champions League qualifier here.

The striker, under scrutiny after a poor start to the season, scored a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Club Brugge (7-1 in aggregate) on Wednesday. Victory secured United’s place in the Champions League group stages following a one-season absence.

“If I didn’t have a strong character, that may have affected me, but I know my quality. If the goals don’t go in, I still bring a lot to my teammates,” Rooney was quoted as saying by BT Sport.

The England captain has been playing as United’s main striker this season but has not scored in the side’s opening four games in all competitions.

“I wasn’t worried. If it was going on for 3-4-5 games more then maybe, but it’s early days and I knew when the chances came I’d take them,” 29-year-old said.

“Everybody goes back to last season and it was so many games without scoring, but a lot of top quality strikers are yet to get off the mark at this stage. I understand because of my name and because of who I am it will get publicised a lot more. That’s my job and I understand that.”

United manager Louis van Gaal said, “It has given him (Rooney) always the confidence that a player needs. Wayne has a very strong mentality and with his level he shall always come back and he proved that.”

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