Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney told ESPN FC on Aug. 4 he believes the team is ready to contend for the English Premier League title this season.
Wayne Rooney believes Manchester United is an English Premier League title contender.
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Rooney made this known to ESPN FC's Iain Macintosh last month. ESPN FC published the interview on Aug. 4:
"(Last season) we could see that we were getting better gradually, but we just needed that consistency in our performance and then, obviously, in results. But we could see in each game we were getting better.
"I feel this season for the first time, rather than the last two seasons, we're ready to challenge again."
Manchester United did not qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 19 years. Macintosh says the club's potential opponents for an August playoff include Lazio and Monaco.
Rooney told ESPN FC he and his teammates will strive to make it this year. He also recalled the sting of the 2011 UEFA Champions League final loss to Barcelona:
"We'll see who we come up against in the game and hopefully we can get through that and be in the Champions League and we'll be ready for the group stage.
"It's something you want to play in. It's a massive competition. It was a shame that we weren't in it last year and that's why it's so important that we made sure we were in it this year and hopefully we'll do that and have a good run in it.
"Losing the final is difficult. You're so close to winning it and to lose twice to Barcelona is hard to take, really. I think you sometimes have to hold your hands up and say they were the better team -- the best team in Europe -- and it was going to be difficult for us to win the game.
"I'd say probaby the game at Wembley, being there, it would have been nice to have won the Champions League there."
Rooney told ESPN FC he is hungry for success this season. He is looking forward to his return to the striker position. Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has emphasized this all along:
"I'm as hungry to do things and win things as I was when I was a young boy. If I wasn't ambitious about winning things, I might as well quit now.
"When I was younger, I was a bit more off the cuff in terms of how I played the game. I think now I can read the game a lot better, my understanding of the game is, I feel, a lot better.
"Obviously with playing in many different positions, I feel the understanding of my teammates as well, when they're in them positions, is better so I think I can read the game more and I feel like that can really benefit me."
van Gaal made Rooney captain last year. Rooney considers it "a big responsibility," per ESPN FC:
"I think it's a big responsibility to take on. It's great that the manager has trusted me to be the captain of the team. It's something I'm proud to do, I want to do and I want to be successful in doing it.
"I think as football progresses, you lose players, players who have come to the end of their career and have retired from football and then naturally it's on us experienced lads to take over from the lads who have done it before."
On Aug. 2, former Everton striker Duncan Ferguson praised Rooney for wearing his No. 18 Everton uniform during his testimonial game against Villarreal. Mail Online's Elliott Bretland reported the development.
Rooney idolized Ferguson when he was growing up, per Bretland.
Rooney has not worn an Everton jersey in 11 years. He left the team in 2004 to sign a lucrative £27 million deal with Manchester United, per Mail Online.
The Everton fans at gave him a standing ovation. He came in for Tom Cleverley with 17 minutes left to play, per Bretland.
Roooney told ManUtd.com (via Mail Online) he appreciated the fans' gesture.
"It was nice to come back here. The fans gave me a great reception which I was delighted with," Rooney said. "Most importantly, it was a big day for Duncan. He really enjoyed the game and it was nice to see him on the pitch again."
Ferguson told Bretland he was delighted to see Rooney wear Everton colors again.
"Special thanks to young Wayne," Ferguson said. "Today tells you everything you need to know about what he thinks of us. It's incredible what he's done today, playing in the royal blue colors."
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