Wayne Rooney can join an elite Old Trafford club this season by scoring more than 30 goals in a campaign. Reds boss Sir Alex Ferguson is backing the on-fire England hitman to join that nine-strong band of United scorers. Jack Rowley was the first United player to achieve the feat with his 30-goal haul in the 1948-49 season. Cristiano Ronaldo was the last to gain membership of the club in 2007-08 with a phenomenal 42-goal return. In between, Tommy Taylor, Denis Viollet, David Herd, George Best, Denis Law and Brian McClair and Ruud van Nistlerooy all joined the select group. Now Fergie believes Rooney can add to his 20 strikes so far this term - and that City will be at pains to ensure United's key man won't make strides towards that target tonight at Old Trafford. "Wayne has got 20 goals and the crucial part of the season is coming up," said Sir Alex. "He could easily get above 30. His ratio at the moment suggests that." The United manager believes that the 24-year-old has now clocked where his most dangerous territory is. "I think Wayne has become more aware of the penalty box," added Fergie. "Giving him that direct role has given him the appetite to be in the box all the time. He still has moments when he goes into other areas of the pitch. But he is choosing those moments more maturely. "The main reason he is scoring goals is because he is in the right place at the right time. That is what good goalscorers do. "I don't think he has become more selfish. He is developing his game in the right way. He realises his main asset to us is being the main striker through there, threatening all the time. "He is getting the rewards for it. In our game against Burnley he had 10 chances in the match. It was unbelievable. "He kept putting them over the bar or by the post, of course. But the thing about that is, if they don't bother about missing a chance that is a true striker. They don't worry about that. They know they are going to get another one." Rooney bagged four against Hull on Saturday, but after an early strike had to wait until the last few minutes to up his total. "He had a couple of efforts in the first-half on Saturday. He had one chance in the second when the goalkeeper blocked it. The thing is he keeps looking to be in there. That is good for us. "Experience is always a key issue with players of potential. With experience you get a maturity and authority in your game. "That is the same with every player. I had that experience. When I got to 24 or 25, I felt I was starting to understand myself more. Every player is like that, not just Wayne Rooney
." Rooney has forced himself into pole position for the PFA and Football Writers' annual awards. "Wayne is in such great form there are not many matching him at the moment," said Ferguson. "His goalscoring form has put him up in that frame. I am not suggesting there are not other good players in the country, there are. It is not for me to judge them but I am happy with the form Wayne is showing." Rooney's form has, of course, attracted interest from would-be buyers. Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona have both been linked with the England ace. Rooney has this week pledged his future to the Reds and Fergie says nobody inside Old Trafford thought otherwise. "We know the area it (speculation) is coming from. We are sure of where it is coming from," said the Reds boss. "It is not his agent and it is not Wayne. We'll deal with that. "He wants to stay here. He made that declaration this week. We knew that. He doesn't want to leave here." Despite the talk, Real general manager Jorge Valdano insists his club are not interested in taking Rooney to the Bernabeu. Rooney has taken on the goalscoring mantle of Cristiano Ronaldo who moved to Real in the summer and now reports have also linked the Englishman with Barcelona. However, Valdano is adamant the player is not a target for the La Liga club following the exit of former Old Trafford striker Ruud van Nistelrooy to Hamburg. Valdano said: "He is extraordinary, very, very good. Rooney is English, we all know they find it difficult to adapt to another type of competition other than the Premier League. "He is a very interesting player but we have not ever been interested."