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Community Shield: Sir Alex Ferguson backing Wayne Rooney to lead from front

07 Aug 2009 19:39:15

Community Shield: Sir Alex Ferguson backing Wayne Rooney to lead from front

But a summer of harvesting a phenomenal cash crop will be darkened by clouds if Wayne Rooney does not display a prolific touch in the post-Ronaldo world, starting against Chelsea in the Community Shield. Rooney certainly has the talent and now his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, has promised him the stage. Rooney will be brought in from the cold, in from his selfless left-sided duties and told to give United the central penetration and prolific presence of Ronaldo.  Related ArticlesCommunity Shield previewUnited will still challenge without RonaldoAncelotti must adapt quicklyWembley captains urged to play niceVidic to miss start of seasonFerguson backs Owen"Wayne is a totally different type of player to Ronaldo,'' stressed Ferguson, speaking before training at Carrington on Friday. "Ronaldo is lightning quick, has two good feet, is magnificent in the air, and what is there left to say about his goalscoring record?'' In 289 appearances, Ronaldo found the mark an astonishing 117 times (a century of goals plus 17 penalties). Strangely, the Portugal international never scored against Chelsea in 10 Premier League meetings or ever found the net at Liverpool in the Premier League, yet any flat-track bully accusations disappeared in a blaze of goals, trophies and individual awards. Ronaldo constantly shone away from home in the Champions League, rising to the challenge at the Emirates, Porto's Dragao Stadium and the Olympic Stadium in Rome, among other difficult venues. A tally of 16 goals in 55 European games is impressive, particularly as Ronaldo started on the flanks for United. If the preening side to Ronaldo's personality will not be missed at Old Trafford, his goals will be. The Premier League sides Ronaldo punished most were Aston Villa (eight goals), Fulham (seven) and Bolton Wanderers, Portsmouth and Wigan Athletic (all six). "Any player, whether Wayne Rooney, Macheda, Welbeck, Nani, all the forwards, all have to say 'well, this guy was exceptional','' reflected Ferguson, adding that only the most dedicated can follow in such productive footsteps by "having the desire to improve themselves in every training session. "People in our game misread what a training session means. It is not just to fill your morning, and not just to keep you out of the house. It is to improve yourselves as footballers. And we are lucky that some of the players we have had here and have here at the moment have that desire to improve themselves all the time. "I don't think the responsibility of getting more goals will affect Wayne at all. He's got the mental strength. He's proved that time and time again. "He will be used as a central striker this season. He goes on these bursts of goals, but if he can do that more consistently over the season he will get to 25 and above.'' Ferguson will also expect goals from the bench from Michael Owen, whose value to England is reflected in his inclusion in Fabio Capello's provisional 30-man squad for Holland next Wednesday, although he may not make Saturday night's final cut. "England are not endowed with a bunch of top strikers,'' continued Ferguson. "The only consistent [selection] has been Wayne. "They have tried Heskey and Crouch. They have even tried Walcott they included him in the World Cup squad in 2006 at 17 years old, which is amazing. "I still can't understand it. So there is a dearth of really top strikers in the country. So that gives Michael Owen a chance. Our approach to him has been to say to him 'enjoy being here, enjoy the training'. And he has not missed a session yet. "He has operated really well in all the games so far. He has shown some really clever stuff and I have been really pleased with him. It is only through that [what he does here] that Fabio can really look at him. "His name and reputation will not get him into the World Cup. It is what he does with us over the next season that will, hopefully, get him into the England squad for South Africa. "Fabio has got to pick the best players and he is not going to pick a player on his reputation from eight years ago.'' For all the focus on Owen, Ferguson knows he possesses another impact substitute. "When Macheda came on he provided real penetration. He was brilliant; actually, he is going to give me real problems. He is exceptional for his age he is a top, top player.'' Owen and Macheda will hope for some action against Chelsea, now coached by Carlo Ancelotti, whose path into the Premier League has been eased by some noted pioneers. "When Arsene Wenger came in it wasn't really a natural thing,'' said Ferguson of the gradual influx of foreign coaches. "Then Gerard Houllier came in at Liverpool. "And when they were successful Arsenal had that great period and Gerard won his cup treble it made it easier for other European coaches to come here. "And more top European players have come here and, therefore, when European coaches come in it means they are working with the same sort of footballing cultures they have come from.'' Ferguson's buoyant mood was etched in little asides. Musing on all the talk in Europe of "Real Madrid and Barcelona dominating'', Ferguson observed quietly "I have my doubts'', while the departure of Xabi Alonso from Liverpool drew the verdict, "I'm not sure it is a great loss''. The new season finds the old master in fine form but Ferguson needs the goals to flow.


Telegraph

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