LONDON - Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has urged the club's supporters to remain behind the team as the faltering English champions seek to pull out of their current tailspin.
Having been beaten by Tottenham Hotspur, Swansea City and Sunderland in their first three games of 2014, United are at risk of losing four consecutive matches for the first time since October 1961.
Rooney will miss the Premier League game at home to Swansea later on Saturday after being sent away for warm weather training to help him recover from a groin problem.
However, he has called on United's fans to give their full support to the team and manager David Moyes as they seek to avenge last weekend's 2-1 loss to the Welsh club in the FA Cup.
"The crowd can help the team's confidence massively so hopefully everyone will get behind the lads and stay with them and the manager throughout the game," he wrote on his official Facebook page.
Moyes says that Rooney should return in time for next weekend's trip to Chelsea, but his strike partner Robin van Persie remains sidelined with a thigh injury.
Former manager Alex Ferguson is expected to attend the Swansea game, but Moyes has dismissed suggestions that the presence of his storied predecessor at United's matches is an unwelcome distraction.
"It tells you that people don't know me and don't know Sir Alex," Moyes told the club's in-house television station, MUTV.
"People are saying it because they have no idea about how it works. Sir Alex has been fantastic. He has been incredibly supportive and is only there to help me.
"I have a conversation with him when I need it and I tend to see him for a minute or two after the games. I have found him great and it has been the same with Sir Bobby (Charlton) and Bryan Robson."