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Rooney's passion is now Fergie's problem

Alex Ferguson is confident Wayne Rooney will eventually curb his natural enthusiasm.

Ferguson believes it was Rooney's desire to be involved in everything, all the time, that led to him playing for England against Egypt.

It was a decision that could yet come back to haunt Manchester United as their star man is now a doubt for this evening's trip to Wolves.

In years gone by, Ferguson might have put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the England manager.

This time, the Scot has absolved Fabio Capello from any responsibility and instead claimed Rooney finds it hard to say no.

"It is hard to quell people the enthusiasm of people like Wayne," he said. "He is restless. He can't sit down. He is always on the move. Even in hotels he is moving from one table to another. If we are in Europe he is walking about all the time. But eventually you see you can't be doing this running about all the time. You have to take a rest sometimes. I don't think he should have played on Wednesday.


"It is his own enthusiasm that has caused it. His problem is that he can't say no."

It is a measure of Ferguson's respect for Capello that he has adopted such a neutral view of the Italian's involvement. He even watched Wednesday's game and got a feeling England are on to something good.

"It was the best I have seen England play for years," he said. "You saw them on Wednesday and you say to yourself that team has a chance in the World Cup."

Only with Rooney in there scrapping, though. And his presence is even more important for United now that Michael Owen has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury.

Although there was some good news on the injury front, with Ferguson revealing Rio Ferdinand will return to his starting line-up tomorrow and Owen Hargreaves is pencilled in for his long-awaited comeback in a reserve team encounter with Manchester City next Thursday, it was far outweighed by the loss of Owen, with the United boss making a telling admission.

"I have not played Michael enough," said Ferguson.

"That is a lot to do with Rooney's form and our choice of playing one striker. He has been a little bit unfortunate with that. But we recognise he has made a great contribution. He is a good professional who has been terrific in the dressing room. It is the first time he has had a hamstring injury in four years as well, so it is a disappointment for the lad and a bad blow for us."

Meanwhile, Ferguson has defended United fans' right to protest by recalling his own trade union past.

Although he does not believe the popular, and highly visual, green and gold protest against the Glazer family's ownership of United has any foundation or chance of success, Ferguson has no issue with the fans' demonstration themselves.

With membership of the Manchester United Supporters Trust rising to more than 100,000, the green and gold 'anti-Glazer' scarves were in evidence at Wembley for the Carling Cup final last weekend and are bound to be at Molineux for tonight's encounter with Wolves.

But Ferguson believes that, as long as supporters continue to support his team, they can wear what they want. "I have no problem with protest, I did it myself. I led an apprentice strike," said Ferguson, a former toolmaker on the shipyards in his native Govan.

"There were plenty of green and gold scarves at Wembley on Sunday and I was delighted to see them supporting the club. We are quite happy. As long as they are supporting Manchester United they can wear whatever they like."

Ferguson has far less common ground with Keith Harris, the former Football League chairman, well-known football deal-maker and lifelong United fan.

Harris is part of the Red Knights group aiming to raise in excess of £1b to make a takeover approach.

He believes the Americans will only be persuaded to sell if supporters start hitting them in the pocket and has urged a mass boycott of merchandise and tickets.

"Now that is a great idea," Ferguson scoffed. "That has come from an intelligent guy has it? There is no chance of that."