Newcastle United will have to stop one of the greatest ever England strikers if they are to come away from Old Trafford with anything.
That is the view of Magpies head coach Steve McClaren who has moved to defend Wayne Rooney ahead of today’s lunchtime clash with Manchester United.
Rooney has come under fire having failed to find the net in four-and-a-half months for his club.
But McClaren – who worked with Rooney when he was England boss – knows all too well the danger the 29-year-old poses, especially given he has scored 12 times and provided seven assists when playing against Newcastle.
Rooney is also just two goals away from becoming the all-time top scorer for England and McClaren believes, if anything, he isn’t appreciated enough.
McClaren said: “Unfortunately, he is one of those types, whatever he does, he will be criticised.
“But believe me, he won’t give a damn about that.
“He always does a good job for his team whether that is on the wing, in midfield or as the controller, the No. 10 or No. 9.
“If he is asked to do a job, he does it.
“He has got to be right up there [in terms of England’s greatest ever].
“Look at the record. That speaks for itself.
“However much you may criticise, when he is long gone and finished and you look back, he will be one of the greatest ever to play for England.
“He may not be appreciated now but he will be in 10 years time.
“That is always the way of things.
“And probably his best is still to come.”
When asked if he was the best player McClaren had ever managed, the Magpies head coach said: “Wayne is different. Just different. One of the best I have worked with.
“But I have been fortunate to have worked with some top, top ones.
“People say he is not but he really is a big game player.
“He is that type you rely on, particularly at club level.
“Wayne is one of them players, you look in the dressing room and go “we have got Wayne Rooney, we are OK.”
McClaren’s defence will be without the suspended Daryl Janmaat, the full-back is serving a one-match ban after seeing red against Swansea City.
While Moussa Sissoko will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness after a groin strain.
Siem de Jong, who missed the Swansea trip, has recovered from a shin complaint and is in the squad.