No rest for the wicked: Red Devils face Stoke as Rooney demands quieter Xmas period

Wayne Rooney is hopeful that a longer rest period will help ensure victory when Manchester United travel to Stoke City on New Year’s Day – but demands change to the hectic festive period.

Louis van Gaal’s men, now unbeaten in nine Premier League fixtures, could only wrestle a draw from Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday, despite having confidently dispatched Newcastle United on Boxing Day.

The Dutch manager complained that the stalemate was down to his players having to play two games in 48 hours – something Rooney believes could be detrimental to the health of players.

“Hopefully the longer break will help against Stoke, and we can get the win,” said the United skipper.

“It’s not easy playing two games in three days. You do lose a lot of quality from both teams and the second half was a bit scrappy.

“But that is how it is. We have to deal with that and we have to try to cope. As a player, you want to play and to try to help the team win.

“In the future, I think it [the schedule] has to change because it is tough and no-one wants to see any players getting really bad injuries from it – it is very demanding and I think it needs looking at.”

United created numerous gilt-edge opportunities against Spurs on Sunday, but their clinical finishing of previous matches was absent.

However, Van Gaal believes that his squad will continue to improve as they become more accustomed to his tactics, with several players, such as Ander Herrera and Adnan Januzaj, set to return from injury in time for the Stoke clash.

“I think everyone can see that we are improving every week in spite of a lot of injuries, and that’s because of the philosophy,” he told MUTV.

“I think the players understand the philosophy, and that’s why we are improving – but we can improve more when we have all the players available.

“There are players coming back, we have seen the first signs of that in the last two games with Rafael, Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw.

“They don’t have any match rhythm and that’s my problem, it’s the case with a few players, but it’s now difficult to pick a team because they are not fully fit.”

Image courtesy of Bwin via YouTube, with thanks.

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