Alan Stubbs: Everton FC can stop Wayne Rooney and Manchester United

19 February 2010 12:00
Wayne Rooney and Alan Stubbs

THE menacing sight of Wayne Rooney terrorising AC Milan's defence in midweek would have been enough to turn Sylvain Distin's blood cold.

Everton host their prodigal son again on Saturday, as the French centre half attempts to exorcise the ghost of a slip-up against Sporting which has cranked up the pressure on the Blues away leg in Portugal next week.

The uncharacteristic mis-control of Jack Rodwell's ill-advised pass, and the penalty conceded moments afterwards left Distin shaking his head in self-disgust as he made the long walk towards the tunnel.

Facing Wayne Rooney at the top of his considerable game is hardly how any player would have chosen to recover, but according to Everton coach Alan Stubbs, Distin has the strength of character to endure.

Stubbs, who played 169 times at the heart of the Toffee's defence, knows both Rooney, his friend of more than a decade, and Distin well. And the Kirkby-born Evertonian is relishing the contest.

'Wayne is probably in the richest vein of form in his career so far. Certainly the most consistent,' says the 38-year-old. 'He is scoring goals for fun - even scoring headers.

'We used to always have a laugh with him when he was here, and take the micky because of his heading. He always used to get beat in the air.

'But Wayne is the sort of lad who works hard to improve every aspect of his game. Even things he was good at anyway.

'So everyone can see for themselves now that his heading is no laughing matter. He just always wants to get better.

'Wayne was never reluctant to put the extra hours of practise in. For someone with such natural ability, his work-rate and what he does for the team sets him apart from the rest.'

Stubbs insists that Distin is the type of consummate professional who will not allow himself to be haunted by that rare mistake against Sporting.

'I wouldn't have thought Sylvain will let what happened on Tuesday night affect him,' he says. 'As a top player you have got to pick yourself up, brush yourself off and get on with it.

'I'm sure that's the exact mentality Sylvain will have. It might have felt like a defeat because we conceded that late goal against Sporting, but we should remember that we won the game. There's no need to go over there fearing them.'

The minds of the Everton players will be set on the visit of Alex Ferguson's title contenders tomorrow and another chance for David Moyes to visit an extra-rare victory over the Red Devils.

But Stubbs warns that Moyes' men will be taking risks if they over-focus on the threat of Rooney.

Source: Liverpool_Echo

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