Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says Wayne Rooney
's performances are suffering because the striker is struggling to deal with the attention he is receiving from the media. The England forward has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks after allegations regarding his private life appeared in tabloid newspapers and has been a long way from replicating the form that saw him score 34 goals last season. Ferguson left Rooney out of the side to face his former club Everton last weekend in the wake of the allegations, and is concerned about the impact the current media coverage is having on the 24-year-old. "I don't believe he has a confidence problem but the boy is starting to realise finally, without any question, what kind of focus is on him as a human being," Ferguson said in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport. "He is realising what it means to be at the centre of media attention for non-football-related questions. "I don't think the boy can turn a corner at the moment without a camera on him. He can't move without the paparazzi being on him and, for a young person, that is not what you want. You want to play and enjoy your football without that attention on you, because that can be quite exhausting. "He would like to keep playing with freedom, but the siege of the tabloids can wear out anyone." Ferguson's side currently trail Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea by four points but the Scot feels that gap can be partly attributed to the fixture list. He added: "West Brom, Wigan, Stoke, West Ham and Blackpool. It feels as though Chelsea chose the calendar. Incredible. "They ended last season scoring a lot of goals against weaker teams as well. "But they continue to win like champions, and whoever wants to win the Premier League will have to consider Chelsea." On United's progress and that of other teams in the English top flight, he said: "We (United) have started quietly just like Arsenal. But us and the Gunners will battle with Chelsea until the end. "It's too early to make any predictions but we cannot forget the progress done by Tottenham. "Houllier at Aston Villa needs time. The disappointment is Everton. I considered them favourites but they have just two points. "Manchester City didn't have the best of starts but with the squad (Roberto) Mancini has, they will be contenders. "I saw them beat Liverpool 3-0, with power and quality. "Mancini has changed half of the squad, it's difficult to find rhythm yet. "When they get continuity they will be a threat to everyone." Will Rooney recapture his best form soon? Have your say.