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Polished Van is steering United - Rooney

MANCHESTER UNITED striker Wayne Rooney has saluted the all-round play of the team's "talisman" Robin van Persie.

HOLLAND frontman Van Persie has demonstrated his clinical touch in United's past two outings, producing an expertly taken strike in the 2-1 Premier League win against his former club Arsenal at Old Trafford on Saturday, and another in Wednesday's 3-1 Champions League victory in Braga.

Those goals have taken his tally to 11 in 14 matches in all competitions for the Red Devils following his summer move from the Gunners and Rooney has no doubt he is playing alongside a "great finisher".

The England international has also been keen to stress, though, that there is much more to Van Persie's game than just goals, praising his ability to hold up the ball and bring his team-mates into play.

"Of course, everyone knows he's a fantastic player and he's got a calmness about him," Rooney said.

"I think he's great for the whole team.

"He's a talisman and if you can get players around him and feeding off him it's great for us all - myself, Chicharito (striker Javier Hernandez) and all the midfield players as well.

"Last season at Arsenal was his best season in the Premier League goalscoring-wise (Van Persie netted 30 top-flight goals), and he changed his game to play on the shoulder more and get in better goalscoring positions.

"Obviously he's a great finisher, but I think he's a lot stronger and can hold the ball up better than you think.


"He's a fantastic player and he's great around the squad as well."

After Van Persie's 80th-minute strike had cancelled out Alan's 49th-minute penalty opener for Braga, Rooney - with another spot-kick - and Hernandez also got on the scoresheet as United completed a late comeback in Portugal to seal top spot in Group H and a place in the last 16.

Alex Ferguson's men, who also lead the Premier League ahead of Saturday's game at Aston Villa, have conceded the first goal on a host of occasions this term and although more often than not they have managed to come from behind to win, Rooney feels it is a problem that needs addressing.

"It's something we're not happy with, of course," the 27-year-old said.

"We need to be more solid as a team and make sure we get the first goal. Then we can kick on from there or, if we have to, we can try and hold onto it.

"It's something I'm sure we'll keep working on."