Sir Alex Ferguson hailed Wayne Rooney's performance as 'out of this world' after Manchester United's troubled striker scored his first goal from open play for nine months in his side's 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion.
But the United manager's extravagant praise for Rooney's first strike in 277 days and after more than 1,417 minutes of football glossed over what had been an ordinary performance.
And it smacked of an attempt to lift the confidence of a man who has endured a turbulent time on and off the field since he was scoring goals for fun last season.
Sir Alex said: 'I thought Wayne Rooney was absolutely out of this world today. He was fantastic, it was an unbelievable performance. He drove us on and one time he beat three players before the goalkeeper smothered his effort. That would have been an incredible goal.'
The reality was that, on that occasion, Rooney squandered his chance. And after heading United's simple third minute opener from a Patrice Evra cross, he often struggled as Albion hit back through James Morrison.
Ferguson, aware also of the importanceof an in-form Rooney to United's title ambitions, added: 'I'm very pleased for Wayne. He's got his goal and, hopefully, that's him on a run now. He is jumping with confidence.'
In fact, Rooney looked barely able to run let alone jump at the end of what Ferguson described as 'a massive win for us'.
The England star had insisted on returning to the field, apparently against the judgment of United's medical team, and limping through the closingminutes after he suffered an ankle injury late in the game.
With Rooney's fitness for the Premier League visit of Stoke on Tuesday in doubt, Ferguson praised his striker's 'courage' in returning to the field after Chris Brunt's challenge looked to have finished the United man's game.
Happy days: Rooney celebrates his early goal
'Our doctor thought he'd be out fora couple of weeks but he came back on,' said Ferguson. 'He showedcourage. I thought his performance was world class.'
West Bromwich manager Roberto Di Matteo was seething after his team were denied a first-halfpenalty following a challenge which he insisted should have seenUnited's veteran defender, Gary Neville, sent off for scything downGraham Dorrans.
Nothing doing: Referee Chris Foy sees nothing wrong in Neville's tackle on West Brom's Graham Dorrans
'It was a goalscoring opportunity and everyone saw that it was a penalty except the referee,' said DiMatteo. 'That would have changed the game completely.'
Ferguson agreed that it should have been a penalty and a red card, adding: 'Gary was lucky to stay on.'
Rooney sent in the crucial corner for United's second-half winner, a header from Javier Hernandez.
By then, Albion striker PeterOdemwingie had missed the penalty they were awarded by referee ChrisFoy, for Rio Ferdinand's trip on Jerome Thomas.
Punishment: Ferdinand celebrates with Hernandez (right) after the Mexican's decisive goal
Ferguson referred to his ownreputation when he was asked about Manchester City assistant BrianKidd's recent claim that the title was United's to lose.
'If he's playing mind games, I think he is playing the wrong guy,' said Sir Alex.
The master of mind games has always been Ferguson as he proved again in his exultation ofRooney, United's mediocre hero.
West Bromwich 1 Manchester United 2: Hernandez nicks it but Baggies left fumingPREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: West Bromwich 1 Manchester United 2 - all the action as it happened at The Hawthorns WEST BROMWICH ALBION FC