Rooney relishing fixture pile-up
© AFP

Manchester United star Wayne Rooney has insisted that his side have no problem with their current busy scedule of matches. With United's march to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup adding to their commitments, the club face a hectic schedule in December and January.

But despite the task of making up two Premier League matches on main rivals Liverpool and Chelsea on their return from Japan, Rooney says he would not have it any other way. "I think we're prepared," he said before United's departure for Japan. "We're coming up to nearly halfway through the season, and we all feel pretty fit. Although there are a lot of games, they're games that you want to be playing in and I think as a footballer you want to play games every week and midweek.

"It will be a good experience for us all. Many of us have never played in this competition before and if we can go there and win the trophy that'd be great, so I'm really looking forward to it."

United, who play their opening game here on Thursday against Japan's Gamba Osaka, qualified for the tournament of continental champions by winning the UEFA Champions League last season. Having played in Japan on pre-season tours before, Rooney said there was a special atmosphere in the country. And he is determined to put on a show for Japan's army of United supporters.

Let us entertain you
"It's amazing because when you go to the hotel there are hundreds and hundreds of fans outside the hotel that have come to support you which is brilliant," the striker said. "We want to try to entertain them as well, to put a good show on for them. When you go out to warm up, the stadium's full and they've all got horns and it's really loud, so it's a great atmosphere and when I've been there, they've been good games so I'm really looking forward to it. The fans in Japan are brilliant towards all the players and obviously it's a tournament that we want to win."

Rooney is also determined to follow the advice of experienced teammate Ryan Giggs and make the most of experiences such as the FIFA Club World Cup. United last played in the competition in 2000. "It's very important. I heard Ryan Giggs say after we won the Champions League this year that he enjoyed this one more than 1999 because when he was younger he didn't take it in as much as he did this year," said Rooney. "After hearing that, I'm trying to take everything in and enjoy it as much as I can and hopefully I can do that in Japan."