Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has hailed returning Wayne Rooney as the most influential player for his side, ahead of the clash against Everton.

The Manchester United captain has been suffering a goal-drought of sorts over the last year or so, but remains an irreplaceable part of the XI.

Van Gaal hails Rooney

As United prepare to take on Rooney’s boyhood club, manager Louis van Gaal has hailed the English international.

He was quoted as saying by ESPN FC:

“He’s our captain so that’s very important because his influence is bigger than every other player in our group. He’s a very important player for me, his colleagues, everybody.”

“He’s a second striker. Our No. 10 is a second striker. That’s what my preference is but sometimes I need another type in midfield. We’ll have to see if he continues with that because Wayne can play in different positions.”

Van Gaal defends Rooney’s scoring record

The English international has scored just once this season, against relegation threatened Sunderland, with the forward enduring a season-long goal-drought before that.

Defending the goal-scoring record of the United captain, Van Gaal said: “He’s scored for us in the Champions League. So for me it is not so important who is scoring. We have scored a lot of goals. In the beginning your criticism was we don’t score goals, but now we’ve scored a lot of goals and you’re picking up an individual player and I don’t like that.”

“I’m a manager who analyses opponents and give him advice as to how we can disorganize Everton’s defence and then maybe he can score,” he said.

“That is what I’m doing, not only for Wayne but all the players, especially from the view of the team tactics rather than the individual tactics.”

Manchester United have found a solution to their goal-scoring drought, with teenage forward Anthony Martial in fine form, scoring thrice in four games in the league.

However, United’s forward line will need a support forward alongside Martial, and Wayne Rooney is expected to play this role.

Van Gaal is not entirely wrong when he says that the forward is the most influential player in the side, with his leadership ability and experience playing a big role in the influence he has on the side, alongside his talent.