Fergie - Rooney most important player
Sir Alex Ferguson believes Wayne Rooney has the personality to carry the weight of expectation as England's leading man in South Africa.
The 24-year-old has been in fine form for Manchester United this season, scoring 35 goals for club and country and winning the PFA Players' Player of the Year award. Rooney's role as England catalyst is set to continue in South Africa, but his club manager believes he will shoulder the responsibility with aplomb.
"When you look at England at the moment, what (manager) Fabio (Capello) is depending on is a fit Rooney," said Ferguson. "He will be the most important player for England, because he is the one player guaranteed his place up front. The other selections are not quite clear at the moment."
He added: "He has got (Jermain) Defoe, he has got (Peter) Crouch, (Emile) Heskey. But Rooney is the guaranteed player who is going to play there so there's a great responsibility on the boy, great expectations from the supporters.
"I think he will carry that, but there is a great expectation. Sometimes because of such demand on England, it sometimes stretches people's realistic ambitions and puts a great onus on the player."
Rooney came top of the Castrol Index ratings in the World Cup Qualifiers, a system endorsed by the likes of Ferguson and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Castrol Performance data was used to forecast the winners of the 2010 World Cup and showed that England have a 10.3% of lifting the trophy at Soccer City on July 11.
The system makes Brazil favourites with a 23.4% chance; sentiments echoed by Ferguson who predicts a final with fellow World Cup stalwarts Italy.
"Well, the seeding pans out that Spain could play Brazil in the semi final," he said. "I look at that, if they were split apart I thought that would be the final, but the fact they play in the semi-final gives the other section a great chance.
"I tend to think Italy will come strong, because they have the coach, Lippi, with great experience. They have great experience in the squad. By history, Italy always do well the longer the tournament goes on, so I think that Italy will be the big strong favourites in the other section."
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