Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal admitted Wayne Rooney was furious with substituting him just over the hour mark in his comeback game at Old Trafford after a knee injury.
Rooney performed admirably in the 1-0 win against Aston Villa even though his fuller figure earned mocking chants from the away supporters who sang: “Are you Gaby in disguise”, a reference to the Villa club captain who has been ordered to go on a crash diet.
The United captain, who last played in the Premier League against Sunderland on February 13, started the move which led to Marcus Rashford scoring the only goal after 32 minutes but was disappointed to be taken off after 67minutes for Jesse Lingard.
“He was angry on me because he wanted to play 90 minutes,” said van Gaal. “But you could see he was losing balls – he hadn’t played for a long time and three days training is not enough.
“He was very good in the first half but not so much in the second. It is not surprising because the rhythm in the Premier League is very high and he has not built up his capacity. But I am not upset with him, it shows good spirit when you want to play 90 minutes.”
Rooney started up front with Rashford but dropped deeper as the game went on. His quickly-taken crossfield free-kick to Antonio Valencia started the move that saw Rashford finish from eight yards.
“It was also Rooney’s goal I think,” said van Gaal. “It was his switch of play.”
The sight of Rooney being influential in a red shirt for United is good news for England manager Roy Hodgson who is adamant he will take the 30-year-old to Euro 2016.