Rooney put in his finest performance of the season against Brugge, finishing off some excellent attacking moves to secure the eighth hat-trick of his Man United career.
The captain has been subject to widespread criticism from supporters this season after several idle performances, especially in the 0-0 draw with Newcastle United last Saturday. However, the 29-year-old silenced his critics on Wednesday by becoming United’s top goalscorer this term in just 37 minutes.
Van Gaal believes that Rooney’s hat-trick will bring some much-needed confidence into the striker’s future performances.
“Yes of course, every goal shall give confidence to every player and also to Wayne,” said van Gaal.
“But I am very happy for him. He was generous to give the penalty to Chicha but I think it was a slip. I haven’t seen the images again yet… Wayne has the best mentality that you can imagine. Such players of that level shall always come back.”
Rooney, whose 12 match goal drought is now at an end, will be expected to kick on and fulfil his target of scoring 20 goals this season.
United’s captain was lethal in front of goal in a game of immense importance; such a commanding display from the side’s leading attacking force will inevitably permeate throughout the rest of the team. The rediscovered brilliance is a welcome sight for United fans, but it will count for very little if Rooney can’t reproduce his display once van Gaal’s side return to Premier League against Swansea City on Sunday.