Man Utd

The hattrick hero receives words of encouragement from Schmeichel.

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel has defended striker Wayne Rooney and said the 29-year-old’s overall contribution was undervalued.

The Red Devils’ captain ended his goalless run with a hat-trick in United’s 4-0 win at Club Brugge in their UEFA Champions League play-off second leg on Wednesday.

While Rooney’s wait for a Premier League goal this season continues, United great Schmeichel said there was more to the England international’s game, ahead of the match against Swansea City on Sunday.

Schmeichel, a five-time league winner with United, denied Rooney had been struggling.

“What I sometimes think is not happening is looking at what Wayne does for the team,” the 51-year-old told Sky Sports News.

“Wayne is an unselfish player, Wayne leaves room for everybody else, Wayne creates a lot of opportunities for everybody else and Wayne’s a leader.

The Dane, who also had Premier League spells with Aston Villa and Manchester City, suggested that the captaincy could be impacting on Rooney’s goalscoring form, but insisted that the striker was deealing well with the extra responsibility.

“He’s taken over the armband and what is clear to me is that he’s taken upon him a responsibility that he takes very seriously. I think he’s not been struggling.

“OK, he’s not been scoring the number of goals but as long as someone else is scoring the goals that are needed [it’s OK].

“[Against] Newcastle, you can argue that we should score more goals and we probably should have, but those kind of games, you have them.

“You can’t even explain why they are happening but I think with Wayne’s performance [against Club Brugge], I don’t think the question was very fair, because to score a hat-trick put it to bed so early in the game, I think that’s what Wayne Rooney’s all about.”

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