This is going to be a vintage year for Rooney: teammate Carrick
MICHAEL Carrick believes Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney is heading for the best season of his career.
Rooney has been in electric form so far this term. His hat-trick at Bolton on Saturday was his second in successive games, taking his overall tally to eight goals in four matches - just three fewer than he managed in the Barclays Premier League throughout last season.
Although Sir Alex Ferguson intends to make some changes when United begin their latest Champions League quest against Benfica on Wednesday in order to keep his players fresh for Sunday's showdown with Chelsea at Old Trafford, it would be a surprise if Rooney was not involved in some capacity.
Carrick is certainly predicting something special from the 25-year-old, who spent virtually a year in the doldrums after injuring his ankle in a Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich in March 2010.
"This is probably Wayne's best season so far and I am expecting big things from him," said Carrick.
"He has done well in the past but he is getting more mature. He is handling things well and going from strength to strength.
"Sometimes he plays well but because he hasn't scored, people don't think he has played well. They just judge him on his goals.
"To score and perform the way he has is brilliant."
Rooney's contribution has helped inspire the youngsters in United's squad, to the extent Carrick had not been called upon to contribute a single minute to United's league season until Tom Cleverley got injured at the Reebok.
Ferguson has said in the past that Carrick usually takes a couple of months to get going.
It certainly seemed that way last term when the 30-year-old played just twice during the opening two months - partly due to an ankle injury - but ended up being an integral member of a team that secured a record 19th league title before starting the Champions League final.
"It is not so much a case of being worried about getting back in, more that I just want to play," said the former Tottenham midfielder.
"I have to be patient. I have not been left out in the cold in any way and I know I am going to get games.
"It is frustrating but I look at the bigger picture.’’