Louis van Gaal said he was “sick” of answering questions about Wayne Rooney‘s form following a dull and goalless Manchester derby.
United and City played out a scoreless stalemate for just the third time in Premier League history on Sunday.
Jesse Lingard rattled the bar and Chris Smalling drew a late save from Joe Hart, but otherwise the hosts rarely looked like getting the breakthrough against a defensive-minded City side.
Just like he did against CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, Rooney struggled to get into the game. The United captain, who turned 30 on Saturday, failed to test Hart as Anthony Martial, deployed again on the left, looked by far the most dangerous player in United red.
Van Gaal bristled at the first mention of Rooney’s name in his post-match press conference.
“I have to talk every week about Rooney, why?” the United manager said.
“You have your opinion – write it. I don’t give any more answers about Wayne Rooney. I am sick of them.”
In fairness to Rooney, he was not the only one who struggled to make an impact on what was a poor game devoid of risk-taking bravado or entertainment.
Without Sergio Aguero or David Silva, City looked toothless in attack in the 170th Manchester derby. Yaya Toure had two chances to open the scoring at the end of the half but fluffed them both.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini admitted he altered his tactics in order to play more defensively and get the point that was required to send his team back to the top of the league.
He said: “We are back at the top of the table.
“It was a very tactical game. I prefer to play in another way but we defended well.
“Unfortunately for the fans it was not a very attractive game. We are two creative teams but we could not do it today.
“If you can’t win, then don’t lose it. People have said that we can’t defend and in the second half we did very well.
“We lost so much possession of the ball and we had to concentrate. United had two late chances but overall it was close.
“I am satisfied with a point but I don’t like to play this way.”
Van Gaal seemed to think City came to Old Trafford with little desire to attack.
“They have the right to play compact and they have done it and they have a fantastic team also on the counter-attack, but we have prevented that also in a very professional way so I cannot complain,” said Van Gaal, who was unhappy United were not awarded a penalty for a foul by Raheem Sterling on Ander Herrera in the box after the break.
“It was a penalty but the referee was not giving us that benefit and of course it is difficult to see,” the Dutchman said.
“I can see it clearly on the video that he doesn’t touch the ball but the legs of Herrera, but we don’t have that luck this season.
“I can imagine it is very difficult for the referee so it is not a big issue. It is not the first time I see it that way.”
Van Gaal stressed he was not using the incident as an excuse for his team’s failure to win a second successive derby game.
He believes Smalling should have not missed his late shot, or a header in the 50th minute.
The United manager was pleased to see second-half substitute Lingard beat Hart with a lob but cursed his luck after the ball hit the bar and bounced to safety.
“We have to score also the three chances, Lingard and Smalling two times,” the 64-year-old said.
“Lingard, I was surprised he could do that because it was a very difficult situation for him. He did it remarkably well.”