The Manchester United players have let down new manager David Moyes after making the club's worst start to a season since 1989, according to Wayne Rooney. The defending champions won 2-1 at Sunderland on Saturday, but they have claimed just ten points from their first seven Premier League games and lie six points below leaders Arsenal in ninth place.
Moyes has come under severe scrutiny since succeeding United great Sir Alex Ferguson, but Rooney believes the players need to accept some of the blame for the team's recent failings.
"Obviously the manager is under a bit of pressure but we know as a team it's us who have let him down," said the England forward. "We have to pull together for the manager and show the sort of fight we have done here [at Sunderland] and we'll be fine.
"This will be a transition season, because it's a new manager with different styles and we have to adapt to them. More importantly, we need to do better for him than we have been."
Moyes gambled by handing Adnan Januzaj his first league start at Sunderland, and the Belgium-born 18-year-old rewarded his faith by turning the match around with a pair of fine second-half goals. Rooney believes the decision to play the winger was testament to Moyes's bravery.
"There was big pressure on us, but the manager has trusted him and he has repaid that," said the former Everton player. "He's very confident, that's great to see. A lot of the young players who come through are a little bit timid and shy, but he looks comfortable and he's confident in his own ability, which you need to be. It was a brave move to play him in the circumstances and we're delighted it's paid off."
Rooney confident in England hopes
Rooney's thoughts will now turn to England's forthcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifiers at home to Montenegro and Poland. Roy Hodgson's side need to win both matches to be sure of a place at the tournament.
"We're going to do it," insisted Rooney. "We're going to get to the World Cup. I'm confident, we're confident, but you always have to be sure you're not over-confident.
"These are going to be two tough games for us but we're good enough to do it. Would it be unthinkable not to get to Rio? Of course. This is crunch time.
"They are going to be two tough games though, because Montenegro and Poland are good sides and their best qualities are on the counter-attack. We will have to try and break them down and make sure we don't get caught out at the back. I think we'll do it, but nobody should think it's going to be easy."
England tackle Montenegro at Wembley Stadium on Friday before facing Poland at the same venue four days later, and Rooney has declared himself fit after sustaining a minor injury at the Stadium of Light.