I'll bounce back from Swans flop! Rooney vows to show his true colours against Toon
22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012
For Wayne Rooney, recent Christmas and New Year experiences have not been good.
Last season, for example, the Manchester United centre forward was a substitute as his team beat Wigan 5-0 on Boxing Day before being dropped completely for the following home defeat to Blackburn after spending too long – in his manager's opinion at least – out on the town with team mate Darron Gibson.
Twelve months on and Rooney has found himself having to apologise again. Not for any social misdemeanours this time, merely a performance at Swansea on Sunday that Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer labelled his worst for years.
Bad day at the office: Wayne Rooney admits he was not at his best against Swansea
That may be exaggerating things a little but Rooney still heads in to today's game with Newcastle at Old Trafford feeling that he has a little making up to do.
'I could feel it on the pitch that things weren't right at Swansea,' said Rooney.
'Some days you have an off day I could feel that and I couldn't complain at being substituted.
'But the good thing I think about football, and especially over the Christmas period, is that you have lots of games and the Swansea game has gone for me and it is certainly not one I will remember.
'I will relish the next one, though.
'The position we are in at the minute, it is a great opportunity to make that gap even bigger between us and Manchester City at the top of the league.
'Obviously against Swansea we couldn't do it but, as I say, hopefully we will get six points from the next two games and see what happens.'
Rooney's season has been one of sporadic performances so for. Having returned from his summer break slightly overweight, the England international then picked up a nasty injury to his thigh in early win over Fulham.
In a recent Sportsmail interview, United ambassador Sir Bobby Charlton suggested that there was improvement yet to come from Rooney's relationship with Robin van Persie and certainly in South Wales on Sunday they two have them seemed to be speaking a different language.
Right decision: Rooney had no complaints about being substituted against Swansea
The worry form Wednesday's opponents Newcastle is that a Christmas home game against struggling opposition presents a perfect opportunity for things to come together. After all, Rooney rarely plays poorly for two games running.
'We are four points clear in the Premier League and of course we are happy with that,' he said.
'We are still in a good position with two home games coming up now.
'We need to make sure we take maximum points from them.
'We know it's early days and there is a long way to go but we are in a healthy position at the moment.
'And so we need to try and keep on.'
Finding his form: Rooney is aiming to be back to his best against Newcastle
Newcastle contributed to a difficult festive period for United last season by beating them 3-0 at St James' Park. Today, however, they arrive in poor shape with Alan Pardew fretting over a run of two wins in twelve games in all competitions and worrying also about the future of star striker Demba Ba.
As far as United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is concerned, the root cause of Newcastle's problems is not difficult to locate.
Ferguson said: 'The new players they brought in last season caught us all by surprise.
'We didn't really know a lot about them.
'I knew about Ba, of course, but I didn't know anything about Cabaye or Cisse to be honest with you.
'They had fantastic seasons.
'Second time round, clubs are starting to analyse them a bit different, plus, more importantly, he's had some injuries.
Caught out: Newcastle beat Manchester United last season
'Cabaye's out till next year, Tiote is out to next year, he's had one or two important players injured, and that does make a difference when you've not got a squad as strong as the likes of ourselves or City or Chelsea.
'I'm not entirely surprised, although I am surprised they are so low down the table.'
Ferguson is sure to make some changes for today's game and it is expected that captain Nemanja Vidic will step down again after a difficult first start since September at the weekend.
Rooney, however, is expecting the club captain to make a significant difference to United's uncertain defending over the coming weeks and months.
'It was good to see him get 90 minutes at Swansea,' added Rooney.
'He has been out for a while and he has been working hard in the gym and at the training ground.
'He has done well to come back and he will be a massive player for us between now and the end of the season.
'He is a great defender and great to have in the team and a great leader.
'We have a few players in the team who can lead from the back or the front and he is our captain and does that.'