Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Media ABUs take note: Fergie has every right to play Rooney until he drops..

In the wake of the thoroughly deserved victory over Liverpool last weekend, the media has been focusing on Wayne Rooney's inflamed knee. We are told the swelling flares up after every game. It's a worry for Ferguson and United fans, it's a worry for England too, but the United manager won't lose any sleep over Capello's problems.

According to his manager, Rooney doesn't know when to say no. A prime example was the recent and totally pointless friendly with Egypt; neither Capello or the player had the gumption to cut short Rooney's playing time on what turned out to be a thorough examination of England's credentials. The match was played on a pitch that just a few days earlier had contributed to Michael Owen's latest hamstring injury - an injury that has ruled the United striker out for the remainder of the season.

No one likes to see players missing action through injury and Rooney's desire to play in every game should be applauded. But, and it's big but, with United fighting to retain the title and to reach another Champions League final, club interests come first, second, third and last... we pay his wages, he belongs to United.

If Rooney ends up missing out on this summer's World Cup due to his knee problem, it could actually turn out to be a blessing for United, because hopefully he will then be fresh for the beginning of next season.

The limited transfer activity at Old Trafford last summer saw the arrival of Atonio Valencia, who has admittedly done extremely well in his first season. Nonetheless, Valencia is a winger, so it is to be hoped the manager will be more successful in his efforts to bolster his forward line in the weeks ahead when the transfer window opens.

With so few genuine obvious quality targets, Ferguson's chances of success are difficult to forecast at this juncture, but as things stand and with so few options at his disposal then the manager has every right to ask Rooney to play in most games between now and the season end.

At the beginning of the season Ferguson told Rooney and the rest of the squad they needed to improve their goal-scoring; Rooney has responded quite magnificently as have the rest of the squad. Ferguson has also changed his formation for the biggest of games, which has seen United playing with a lone striker in Rooney. Against the expectations of many, the ploy of playing just one up top has worked too.

Nonetheless, an injury to Rooney between now and the end of the season would scupper United's hopes of winning yet more silverware; if it happens it will be a tragedy for the player and the rest of the squad who have worked so collectively hard.

In many ways this season has been one of surprises, Park Ji Sung's performance against Liverpool added another twist to what is turning to be another dramatic unfolding drama; who among us fans would have selected the South Korean to be the player who was expected to support Rooney by getting into the opposition penalty area from midfield with a view to getting on the end of things? Not me. Yet it was Park who managed to get on the end of three crosses, the first two were spurned, but the third was bravely taken quite brilliantly and with no thought to personal preservation as he dived full length to head home the winner from Darren Fletcher's raking cross from the right.

With Chelsea surprisingly slipping up at the weekend against Blackburn, the champions are in the driving season. United cannot afford any slip-ups, it looks like being another bumpy, but very exciting ride and that's how we like it.

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