Fergie backs Rooney, praises partnership
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted he is not concerned by the form of Wayne Rooney. The 25-year-old's performances have improved markedly since he resolved his differences with the Red Devils during a mad week in October, but the goals have still not started to flow.
While Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez have 20 and 11 to their credit respectively, Rooney remains stuck on three, two of which came from the penalty spot.
There has even been speculation that the England forward could find himself on the substitutes' bench at Old Trafford tonight as United look to consolidate their five-point advantage at the top of the Premier League table by overcoming Aston Villa.
Yet Ferguson has played down concerns about Rooney's impact, stating he looks far beyond the goals column when assessing a player's contribution to his team.
"Some of our critics are making a meal out of the fact that Wayne Rooney is lagging behind in the goal stakes," Ferguson told United Review. "He is, compared with the bucketload he scored last year, but I am not worried.
"It is the scoring partnership that matters, and the combination between our two front men has improved beyond all recognition. Last year, Wayne benefited from Dimitar's work but this year it is Berbatov enjoying the last touch.
"If we finish the season with Berbatov scoring 30 and Wayne on ten - and those are the targets I have in mind - I will be more than happy. That is what I call a successful strike partnership, reminiscent of Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke."