Alex Ferguson is refusing to put pressure on Wayne Rooney to equal Cristiano Ronaldo's amazing 42-goal haul from two seasons ago.
Rooney took this year's tally to 27 on Tuesday and, although Ferguson has claimed he is toying with the idea of leaving his star man out, the Manchester United striker will almost certainly get the opportunity to wreak more havoc in tomorrow's Carling Cup final against Aston Villa.
With a maximum of 17 games remaining, Rooney is only 15 short of Ronaldo's phenomenal contribution to United's 2008 campaign, which ended in Premier League and Champions League glory.
But in the knowledge Rooney is already shouldering much of United's hopes, Ferguson does not want the burden to be any greater.
"We have 10 league games after tomorrow and hopefully six European ties. That is 17 games in total," said Ferguson.
"A goal a game would bring him to 44. There's pressure for you. It is a target and who wouldn't love to get that kind of goal tally. It is hard to think he could reach it though. I don't think he has got that kind of target and I certainly haven't.
"He is in a great scoring burst right now. He is popping up in the right places at the right time and his judgment in the penalty box is improving. That is a nice sign. But I have said all along if he gets over 30 I will be delighted so let's not be greedy."
Should Ferguson opt to leave Rooney out, it would at least offer Dimitar Berbatov a chance to play.
The Bulgarian could hardly have imagined that, after spending a club record £30.75m on him at the start of last season, Ferguson would leave him out of so many key games. Benched for last season's Champions League final, Berbatov was also among the substitutes for the recent win over AC Milan in the San Siro.
His response has been admirable though, scoring at Everton last weekend before producing an outstanding performance in a creative capacity against West Ham in midweek.
"Dimitar is consistent," said Ferguson. "On Saturday he looked like the only one who could score and he has performed well in recent games.
We do have a preference to play one striker sometimes. But that does not reflect on him in any way, or Michael Owen for that matter. It is just the choice we make."
Ferguson has a dilemma over the goalkeeping position tomorrow, with Tomasz Kuszczak, Ben Foster and Edwin van der Sar all having plausible claims on the shirt.
For Van der Sar it would represent another notable milestone at the latter end of a career he has agreed to extend beyond his 40th birthday by remaining at Old Trafford for another year.
"Edwin's professionalism and dedication to his job, and the way he looks after himself, has given him the longevity in the game," said Ferguson.
"That longevity includes such great experience, not just at United but at Juventus, Ajax and on an international level.
"We are absolutely delighted he is continuing for another year."
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