Manchester United manager labels Rooney 'sidekick' after Arsenal victory

Moyes plays down England striker's impact alongside Van Persie's winner.

It seems that no matter how well Wayne Rooney plays, he will always be Robin to Van Persie's Batman, at least in David Moyes' eyes.

The Manchester United manager was clearly delighted after seeing his team beat league leaders Arsenal 1-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday evening.

In post-match interviews and conferences he was positive without getting carried away, reserving special praise for Van Persie and Rooney.

"This is another step on the ladder," he said. "We're improving and getting better, and we hope it will get much, much better in the coming months and years," Moyes told BBC Sport.

"The big players come up at the moment when they're needed, and today Robin and Wayne, with his all round performance, were two terrific performances." 

However, this praise for Rooney came with a slip of the tongue in the press conference, when the United manager appeared to once again emphasise that he sees Van Persie as the lead and Rooney as the back up.

"Great players score great goals in big games and Robin's a great player. His sidekick [Rooney] played great as well.

"The two of them were fantastic. The big players are coming up when needed and Robin and Wayne gave two big performances."

Quite why Moyes gives praise to Rooney only to undermine his importance as one of the best players at the club in the next breath is strange. Rooney was one of United's stand out players. His work rate and ability was consistently an example to his teammates, and it was his set piece that found Van Persie's majestic leap for the games only goal. If anything, this was the game when Moyes should put Rooney in the spotlight despite the Dutchman having scored.

This isn't the first time Moyes has seemingly put his foot in his mouth when discussing the importance of Wayne Rooney. During pre-season, when United's number 10 was allegedly unhappy and seeking a move, Scotsman Moyes did little to placate his frontman by declaring Rooney as back up to Van Persie. "Overall my thought on Wayne is, if for any reason we had an injury to Robin Van Persie, we'll need him, " said the newly appointed United manager in a press conference on their pre-season tour of Asia and Australia.

Since then, Rooney's importance, and apparent happiness has grown considerably, arguably being the team's most impressive attacking player so far. But no world class player will want to be constantly reminded that his manager thinks he is the number two, the back up, or the sidekick, especially in a sport where individuals tend to thrive and deliver when afforded their manager's confidence.

image: © nasmac

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