Premier League - Rooney 'hurt' by poor United form

Wayne Rooney says he is "hurt" by the way Manchester United's title defence has started and has told his team-mates they need to start delivering.

The champions currently sit ninth in the Premier League and are nine points behind Everton who occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot.

With David Moyes still adapting to life in Sir Alex Ferguson's place as manager, the transition has been a long one and questions have been asked of where United are heading on and off the field.

For Rooney, though, the players need to do their bit.

"We all have to step up," he told a number of national newspapers ahead of Sunday's away game with Aston Villa.

"It hasn't been good enough of late and we all have to come forward and show why we were champions last year and do better. We have a good run of games now and hopefully we can do that."

Rooney is one United player who could be admonished of blame for United's form. The England international has been the club's stand-out player this season, but still considers himself culpable.

"It's not about me, it's about the team. If the team isn't doing well then my form is not important - we have to do well as a team and roll our sleeves up and really pull ourselves together," he added.

"It's not nice (the table). We are all proud players and it's not nice being there. It hurts. Hopefully there will be a reaction."

Much has been said about the transfer business Moyes did in the summer and how much he is expected to do in the forthcoming window.

Some have criticised the Scot for his dealings, with others claiming United no longer spend big, but he is adamant that the money is there for him to freshen things up should he so wish.

"We can definitely find the money for a big deal, 100 per cent," he told national newspapers.

"I know that because the money was available this summer. We were very close to a major, major signing, and if it had gone through it would have definitely shown what the club is worth.

"We didn't do it in the end, we didn't quite get there because players had chosen other clubs or made different decisions, but we were close to a couple of major signings and we didn't miss out because of money, that's for sure."

With United's pursuit of a top-four spot currently off-beam, questions have been asked in some places as to how the club's owners would react if Moyes and his players fail to qualify for the competition next season.

Moyes was dubbed as 'the chosen one' after being picked for the job by Ferguson and former United defender Gary Neville believes Moyes should remain, no matter what.

"My view is simple: David Moyes deserves to have the same period of time that every Manchester United manager has had," he wrote in the Mail on Sunday.

"I don't care what Chelsea or Real Madrid do in sacking their managers after winning trophies.

"Manchester United should be different and stay true to their values. And even if United didn't qualify for the Champions League, which would be a huge disappointment, I would maintain that view."