Roo: We must go for kill in title run-in
WAYNE ROONEY cannot put his finger on why Manchester United have had difficulties in finishing opponents off.
The arrival of Rooney's former club Everton to Old Trafford on Sunday is a painful reminder of how, despite twice establishing a two-goal cushion against the Toffees in the corresponding fixture last term, United were unable to close out the contest.
That failure proved to be crucial in the Premier League title race as it blew the door open to Manchester City, who went on to be crowned champions for the first time in 44 years.
It has been a similar story this term, the only difference being that the Red Devils have generally found a way to squeeze out a succession of unconvincing victories.
And Rooney does not understand it.
"I can't put my finger on why we are not killing teams off," he said.
"We have scored plenty of goals. It is the most number we have scored at this stage of the season.
"We have conceded too many and have done throughout the season.
"But that is the way we have been set up to play. We have to just keep our scoring going."
United do have the edge, though, with further dropped points by their rivals last weekend allowing them to open up a nine-point lead on City, and move 16 clear of Chelsea.
Had it not been for their dramatic collapse last term, when they let slip an eight-point advantage in the space of just four games to hand the initiative to City, many observers would now be writing United up as champions already.
Rooney has no intention of falling into that trap.
"Results are the most important thing now," he said. "Look at Manchester City against QPR – they should have got the win, had a lot of chances but ended up dropping two points.
"That could quite easily have happened to us against Southampton the following night.
"It proves we have to keep picking up the points when we can.
"Once it comes down to the last four or five games, then we will see what position we are in and work out what we have to do."
With a trip to Real Madrid looming on Wednesday, United must fight the distraction of a mouth-watering reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo.
It means even more emphasis than usual will be placed on Alex Ferguson's injury bulletin.
The bout of shingles that prevented Phil Jones joining up for England under-21 duty this week is an obvious cause for concern at Old Trafford, while Danny Welbeck was spotted with a minor limp as he left Wembley on Wednesday.
There will also be assessments on the condition of Shinji Kagawa, following his return from Japan's friendly with Latvia, and Javier Hernandez, who was on duty in Mexico, to determine what part they will be able to play over the coming week.