Rooney laments his own poor form
Wayne Rooney has admitted his last two Manchester United performances have not been good enough.
After serving a three-match domestic ban and missing all three England games so far this season, it was little surprise that Rooney should be off the pace in last week's Champions League win over Celtic.
Much better was expected against Arsenal at the weekend but, again, the 20-year-old struggled to make an impact.
Eventually, to his own frustration and the astonishment of many United fans, he was replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Rooney looked clearly unhappy as he watched the remainder of the Old Trafford defeat from the home bench.
However, he now accepts his recent displays have been below-par.
'I am disappointed with my own form in the last two games,' he told MUTV.
'It has not been up to the standard I normally play. I am disappointed with that but I will keep working hard and hopefully my game will come back again.'
Sir Alex Ferguson has no fears on that score but, like many of his players, the Scot felt Rooney suffered at the weekend as a direct result of the effort expended in beating Celtic in what proved to be a titanic tussle.
Rooney accepts there may be some truth in his manager's assessment, especially given his brief post-match chat with Paul Scholes, who had spent a similar amount of time on the sidelines.
'The Celtic game was quite tough,' said Rooney.
'It was a big game and there was a lot of pressure on us to win it. I spoke to Paul afterwards and we were both quite tired.
'Nevertheless, losing against Arsenal was a big blow. We have made a good start to the season and we wanted it to continue.
'Even a draw would not have been too bad but to lose in the last 10 minutes was devastating.
'I suppose if you look at the league table, we have made a decent start and we are still in front of the other title contenders.
'But Sunday's game was one we could have won and we let ourselves down in that regard.'
At least the United camp have a full week to recover before heading to Reading and their first competitive encounter with the Berkshire outfit at the Madejski Stadium.
Ferguson will hope the brief lull in fixtures offers Nemanja Vidic, Alan Smith and Gabriel Heinze the opportunity to work on their match fitness.
Vidic in particular will fancy his chances of a recall given the recent problems which have surfaced in Rio Ferdinand's previously watertight partnership with Wes Brown.
The Serbian's willingness to get stuck into the less glamorous parts of defending should certainly help stabilise United's rearguard and Ferguson is looking to have both Vidic and Heinze back in his side.
'Some defenders would prefer to be known as football players but the guys who have a vocation for it, like Vidic and Heinze, take great pride in their work, they revel in it,' Ferguson told the Scotsman.
'They love defending. They see it as an honourable profession.'
In all likelihood, it is on the backs of players like Vidic and Heinze that United's championship hopes will rest.
A squad containing the likes of Rooney, Louis Saha, Cristiano Ronaldo, Scholes and Ryan Giggs is well capable of scoring the goals required to win a title providing the opposition can be kept out at the other end.
Rooney can certainly see a major improvement in the Red Devils last season.
And, having wondered all his life what it would be like to win the league, he feels this year he could finally find out.
'As a young boy it was a dream of mine to win the league and that is my main aim,' he said.