Rooney eyes Charlton record
Wayne Rooney has set his sights on beating Sir Bobby Charlton's Manchester United goalscoring record. Rooney remains on 28 goals for the current campaign, having drawn a blank in last night's Premier League win over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
It means he has amassed 175 career goals for the Red Devils, a tally that leaves him just four adrift of Dennis Viollet and George Best, who are level in fourth spot. Rooney admits it would be an honour to move level with those legendary United figures. But the 26-year-old regards Charlton's mark of 249 as the ultimate target.
"It would be an unbelievable feeling if I could get his record," Rooney told Inside United. "I'm still a long way away but hopefully, one day, I will be able to do it. They (Viollet and Best) are obviously club legends and to be in touching distance of their goal tally is something I'm really proud of and hopefully I will overtake them soon."
Rooney played in a deeper role than usual at Blackburn as Sir Alex Ferguson attempted to block his midfield. Late goals from Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young ensured the tactic worked, extending United's present run to an incredible 31 points from 33, which has given them a five-point lead over Manchester City with seven games remaining.
It is a remarkable achievement considering the fixtures United have had to navigate in that time. And Rooney believes it was the January away win over Arsenal that proved the catalyst. "It's always a difficult game and to go there and win was a great result, especially given the run of tough matches we had at that point in the season," he said.
"There were league games against Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea and cup games with City and Liverpool all around that time. To come away with the result was brilliant and gave us a lot of confidence."
Yet the strange way United's season has unfolded makes it hard to pick an outstanding player. Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia all have their supporters. However, Rooney plumps for strike partner Danny Welbeck. "Danny [Welbeck] got an opportunity from the start of the season and came in, played well and scored a few goals," said Rooney.
"He is an exciting player and credit to him for the way he has performed. To play so many games in his first full season has been brilliant. I'd give the award to him."
City on the mind
As he tries to salvage something from the wreckage of his season, City boss Roberto Mancini might wonder where it all went wrong. After all, on paper he has the better squad. However, Rooney rejects the theory this is a poor United compared to the stellar squads of recent years. "There have been games when we could have played better but we've shown the spirit and the determination to grind out results when we've needed to," Rooney said.
"We've got a lot of quality players in the side and at times this season we've played some great football. If you look at the points tally for this stage of the season it's probably one of the highest in United's Premier League history. We won the league last season and are in a great position to do it again, so we haven't done that badly."
Certainly Rooney will be keeping abreast of any developments at the Etihad Stadium over the coming weeks as a title race tends to become all-consuming. "It's on your mind all the time and you're thinking about it every day," he said. "The games usually come every three or four days at this time of the campaign so you're always thinking about the next match and looking at the league table all the time. It's brilliant though, and a very exciting time."