Sir Alex Ferguson has assured Wayne Rooney he will eventually get the penalty-taking job at Manchester United back.
Rooney missed his 10th spot-kick for United when he was off target in the FA Cup third-round replay against West Ham 10 days ago. Ferguson felt it was time for a change, so when Aaron Hughes handled in the second minute of the fourth-round clash with Fulham, Ryan Giggs duly sent United on their way to a 4-1 win.
However, Ferguson does not think the England man's spot-kick days are over. "With Wayne missing the penalties he has, it was time to give him a break," said Ferguson. "But he will come back it. The one thing about Wayne is that it doesn't faze him if he misses one. He has a fantastic temperament."
Rooney got his name on the scoresheet anyway, blasting home in the second half after Anderson provided the through-ball. He then sent Javier Hernandez through for the first of his two goals before Hughes netted a consolation for the visitors, who were comprehensively outplayed.
With Rooney now on 10 goals for the campaign, and Hernandez exceeding last season's total by hitting 14, Ferguson has every right to feel confident about the challenges ahead. "I am really pleased Wayne has scored and Javier got two," said Ferguson. "If those two and Robin get to the 20-plus mark, we are really in business."
United now await the fifth-round draw, and all Ferguson is asking for is a home tie as the Red Devils look to win the trophy for a record 12th time, but for the first time since 2004.
"The FA Cup is an important trophy for us this season," said Ferguson. "We haven't won it for 10 years. Rio Ferdinand has never won an FA Cup medal, so we need to do something about that."
It was another disappointing afternoon for Fulham, who face the same opponents at Craven Cottage next Saturday, and for whom former United star Dimitar Berbatov was a peripheral figure.
"We looked a bit open and it could have been one of those days when they scored six or seven," said Fulham boss Martin Jol. "The first half was not good. It was not to do with them, it was to do with us.
"The two goals at the start of the second half killed us. But we have to try to remain positive because it is Manchester United again next week so it is a difficult spell for us. Our quality up front will always make a difference but we lacked conviction and confidence and a bit of energy."