David Moyes feels Wayne Rooney is on the verge of becoming “one of the great legends” at Manchester United as he establishes himself as a leader at the club.
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Rooney, 28, has enjoyed a return to form since Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer, and he was key to Saturday’s 3-1 victory over West Ham United as he dropped deeper to create the chances that won the game.
Moyes said Rooney was “great” in that more withdrawn role and stressed that the England forward is developing an awareness of his influence at the club.
“Do you know what I see more than anything in Wayne? I see leadership. I see somebody who wants to take responsibility for the team. I see somebody who cares for how he plays and how the team plays. More than anything, that is what I see from Wayne,” he told the British media.
“Maybe if he is not quite at the top of his form I will need him to drop in at times and he has no problem doing any of the jobs. He is getting to an age now where he realises he is not a boy any more. He is one of the senior men in the team. He is actually on the verge of being one of the great legends at this club.
“Because of that, I think he is saying: 'I have got to take responsibility for results and for performances and make sure the players are doing it on the pitch.' The players are responding.”
With Robin van Persie currently sidelined with a thigh injury, there is greater responsibility on Rooney to lead the attack, but Moyes has said he will not sign another striker next month and believes Danny Welbeck -- who scored the opener on Saturday -- is now showing his worth.
“The thing levelled at Danny was: ‘Could he score?’ He is beginning to make a contribution to the goal tally, which we want,” he said of the England international, who now has five Premier League goals from 11 appearances this season. “Because of that it is certainly helping Wayne and Robin as well.
“It will give me a headache. We need to get Robin back and we need to have Danny scoring goals because, overall, we have relied a lot on Wayne.”