Sunday 25 February 2018

Rooney demands United return

Wayne Rooney believes he needs more game time to find his best form - despite Alex Ferguson's decision to rest his striker
Wayne Rooney believes he needs more game time to find his best form - despite Alex Ferguson's decision to rest his striker

Mark Ogden

Wayne Rooney has questioned Alex Ferguson's decision to withdraw him from the Manchester United first team in recent weeks by claiming he needs regular football if he is to regain his form.

Rooney, who was omitted from United's squad for the Champions League victory against Valencia on Wednesday, has told Ferguson he is fit for selection against Sunderland today, despite his manager's insistence that he must rest an ankle injury for at least another week.

The 24-year-old has scored just once for United this season -- a penalty against West Ham on August 28 -- following a hugely disappointing World Cup campaign with England.

Lurid allegations that he slept with prostitutes have added to Rooney's troubles and Ferguson left him out of United's squad for the trip to Everton last month, citing fears the Goodison Park crowd would subject their former player to incessant abuse.

But while conceding that his form has given Ferguson justification for leaving him out, Rooney insists playing through his barren run is the quickest route to him rediscovering his goal touch.


Rooney said: "I know I can play better, so I'm hoping to get a consistent run of games in the team. If I do that, I'm sure my form will be back to its best. When you're not playing at your best, you need to just continue playing and doing the simple things, then your form will come good.

"You always want to play well and give the manager no excuses to leave you out, but there are top players here, so you have to be at your best to keep your place. If you're not, the manager has the players to leave you out. All footballers get left out at some stage, but I want to play every game."

Rooney claims that his late return to pre-season training -- he missed United's summer tour of North America following an extended break after the World Cup -- has contributed to his poor form.

And he also points to Dimitar Berbatov's return to favour affecting his own goal threat by forcing him into a change of position.

"Last season, I played up front every game -- whether it was alone or with Berba, I was the out-and-out striker and that was the big difference," Rooney said. "That's my favourite position and, scoring-wise, it's obviously a lot better because you get more chances to score rather than if you are playing in the hole and creating for others. If you are up at the top, you know you are going to get those chances.

"My performances could be better. I missed pre-season and I've only played four or five games this season. But with the more games that you play, the better your form will become, so I'm hoping to get a run of games."

However, Ferguson insisted yesterday that he is not prepared to gamble on Rooney's fitness at Sunderland, although the United manager has opened the door for England boss Fabio Capello to select the player for the Euro 2012 qualifying clash against Montenegro on October 12.

"He has been playing a few weeks with his niggling ankle injury and he's kept it to himself, so it comes to a point where it suffers and it meant we didn't take him to Valencia," Ferguson said.

"He trained a bit on Thursday and he thinks he's fit because he always thinks he's fit. That's the problem with the lad. He's always too willing to play, even with injuries. But we have to be dead sure."

Ferguson added: "In a week's time, Wayne will be 100pc fit and that's why it's so difficult to pick him (at Sunderland). The England game is a week on Tuesday, so that's another 10 days. It is up to Fabio Capello if he wants to play him." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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