• Premier League

Rooney and Fletcher warn United to expect backlash

ESPN staff
August 18, 2014
Van Gaal failing to learn from Moyes' mistakes?

Wayne Rooney and Darren Fletcher have warned Manchester United they can expect to face plenty of criticism following their opening-day defeat to Swansea at Old Trafford.

Louis van Gaal's first Premier League game in charge of United saw his side suffer a 2-1 loss at Old Trafford.

Over to you, Ed Woodward

Louis van Gaal and Ryan Giggs has plenty of thinking to do against Swansea © Getty Images
  • Louis van Gaal needs reinforcements with Manchester United no longer possessing the personnel to win the Premier League.
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United's struggles, particularly last season's seventh-place finish under David Moyes, have been well documented, while several of the club's former players have spoken out about United's current predicament.

Paul Scholes was the latest to pass judgement from the television studio and hinted that several of United's current crop would struggle to break into the successful sides of recent years.

But Rooney believes the jibe is par for the course and is keen to prove last season's failings were a "one-off".

"It is always a bigger story when Manchester United struggle and we saw that last season. We all understand that," Rooney said.

"Players have to understand that you are going to get ex-players going over the top and having their say. We have to accept it and be ready for it.

"We know that if this club is successful it is great and if it is not then there are a lot of people who are waiting for you to fall so they can get at you.

"We have to make sure we are successful. We have to make sure last season was a one-off because that was not good enough. We are not out to prove people wrong. We are to win things for ourselves, the fans and this club."

Fletcher admits it is "the perfect time" for United's critics to slate them but is convinced his side will prove them wrong this season.

United won 13 league titles and reached four Champions League finals in Sir Alex Ferguson's last 21 years in charge and former Liverpool, Real Madrid and England midfielder Steve McManaman described the current crop as the worst United team he had seen in two decades.

But while Fletcher accepts United's recent struggles have provided fuel for their detractors, he insists such remarks will increase their determination to show they aren't true.

"People have been waiting for an opportunity to have a go at United for years and this is the perfect time," Fletcher said.

"It's a long season and I don't think they will be saying those things at the end of it. I believe we're going to have a very good season. All the players believe that too. Comments like that give us a greater determination, without a shadow of a doubt."

Fletcher has been appointed vice-captain by Van Gaal and the 30-year-old is a senior figure in a young group, where Tyler Blackett and Jesse Lingard were given United debuts against Swansea.

It brought comparisons with the start of the 1995-96 season when United were written off by some pundits after selling the experienced trio of Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis and promoting youngsters - including Paul Scholes and David Beckham - to replace them.

"To be honest it felt like that in the dressing room [on Saturday]," Fletcher said.

"It did have a feel of that in terms of people looking at the squad and maybe not seeing household names, but these players are good enough and the manager believes in them. All you need is a platform to go and perform and I'm sure they'll definitely go and prove people wrong. This whole club is about bouncing back from adversity."

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