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Rooney blames players but remains hopeful of trophies

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney insists the blame for the club's nightmare season is on the players and not manager Louis van Gaal.

The Dutch manager has been widely criticised for the club's fortunes this season after United failed to make it out of their Champions League group, as well as indifferent league form that has seen them slip out of the top four.

Six points separate fifth-placed United from local rivals Manchester City in fourth place, and that gap would have been just three had United managed to defeat relegation-threatened Sunderland on Saturday, where they suffered a 2-1 defeat.

While Van Gaal has had to shoulder the majority of the blame from media and fans, Rooney said the players have simply underperformed.

"It’s a very good group of players," said the United and England skipper. "At times it’s been frustrating for us as we’ve under-performed.

"And actually the manager has taken a lot of stick for some performances. It’s down to us, we’re players and we have to perform.

"At times this season we haven’t done that. In terms of that, we’ve probably got off quite lightly and the manager has taken a lot of it.

"But we’re going on the pitch. We have to create chances and win games and we haven’t done that enough this season."

Despite the club's struggles, Rooney believes United should focus on winning silverware this season, with the club still alive in the FA Cup and Europa League.

"The important thing now, I feel, is to win trophies again this season," he said. "It’s been a few years since we won a trophy.

"This is more or less a new team so for ourselves, as a team, we need to win something. The fans want to see us win something again.

"Obviously the Champions League is massive for this club and it was disappointing to go out of it.

"We’ll keep going in the league, keep trying. But our main aim has to be to make sure we can get in that top four.

"And then the Europa League, it would be great if we can win that. It’s not where we wanted to be at the start of the season.

"But it’s where we’ve found ourselves so why not go and try to win it."

United travel to Denmark to take on Danish champions FC Midtjylland on Thursday before resuming FA Cup duties with a fifth-round tie away to League One outfit Shrewsbury Town.