Rooney backed to rediscover killer instinct
United head to Blackpool for a rearranged game on Tuesday knowing a win could extend the leaders' position at the top to a commanding five points. But while Sir Alex Ferguson's side look in fine form after their 5-0 demolition job over Birmingham on Saturday, which extended their unbeaten run to 22 games, Rooney's improved performances haven't yet been rewarded with goals.
Rooney could console himself with his role in three of United's five goals in their drubbing of Birmingham where strike partner Dimitar Berbatov grabbed a hat-trick. The England striker has scored just once from open play this season and missed a routine chance from close-range when he headed wide when it seemed easier to score on Saturday.
But Republic of Ireland international defender O'Shea says there's more to Rooney than just goals as far as his team-mates are concerned. "We know he'll always do his best for the team," he said. "He'll be back on the goal trail because of the quality he's got and the chances he's creating for other players too. He's a tremendous asset and I'm sure ones like the one he missed towards the back post against Birmingham will be flying in in no time.
Ferguson joined O'Shea in claiming there's goals around the corner for Rooney, who has endured a troubled season on and off the pitch, amid his barren run. "We hope the goals will come for Rooney," said the Manchester United manager. "He deserves it. He's playing some great football and is working his socks off."
Challenging road trip
United will be red-hot favourites to roll over a Blackpool side, who despite being tipped to struggle, have been one of the surprise packages of the season after winning promotion. O'Shea refuses to be complacent over the task at hand at Bloomfield Road.
"Their their home record (before Saturday's loss to Sunderland) was fantastic so I'm sure we will be taking the highlights from that game," he said. "It's going to be difficult as Blackpool will be up for this game. We know we have to focus on ourselves and take it one game at a time."
United are sweating on the fitness of defender Rio Ferdinand, who is struggling to shake off a groin injury. Paul Scholes, who has been absent for the last two months, is set to return while defender Rafael is also in contention after serving his one-match.
Blackpool manager Ian Holloway will be looking to bounce back from the 2-1 defeat against Sunderland. But whether captain Charlie Adam plays is another thing. The Scottish midfielder has been the subject of a rejected £4m bid from Liverpool, while Aston Villa and Birmingham have also seen their offers rebuffed. "I was thinking Liverpool and Charlie," said Holloway.
"I thought fantastic what a great club for him to go to and then when I heard the bid I thought it was disgraceful. I don't think it was Kenny Dalglish that put that offer in. Mr (Damien) Comolli (Liverpool's director of football strategy) should look at what is going on and get realistic.
"What they offered is about the price Charlie would have been worth when Kenny was last playing. Is it a destabilising tactic from the three clubs, Birmingham, Aston Villa and now Liverpool? I don't know."