From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.35 :: NO.14 :: Apr. 05, 2012

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FOOTBALL / STARWATCH

Leading from the front

Rooney requires another eight goals to equal his best ever haul of 34, scored in his injury-blighted 2009-2010 campaign, but he is not letting personal aims get in the way of collective achievements.

Wayne Rooney has hit a rich vein of form at the right time as the race for the English Premier League title hots up.

On-song striker Rooney scored both goals as Manchester United beat West Brom 2-0 and Manchester City's defeat at Swansea ensured the EPL champions took over at the top of the table.

The England international now has 26 goals for the season, with nine of those coming in his last six games, and boss Sir Alex Ferguson has challenged the former Everton man to hit the 40-goal mark.

“If Wayne gets to 40 goals I will be absolutely delighted because we will be in business then,” said Ferguson. “Wayne is on a hot streak. I thought his first goal (against Albion) might have been offside because he was so clear but when you see his timing of the run it was fantastic.”

Rooney requires another eight goals to equal his best ever haul of 34, scored in his injury-blighted 2009-2010 campaign, but he is not letting personal aims get in the way of collective achievements. “I know how many goals I need to achieve it but I am not really focused on that at the minute,” he said. “We have 10 games left and I just want to help us get those points we need to be successful. The most important thing is to win trophies.”

Rooney is still only 26 but he is a senior figure in the United side and has become a talisman for the champions. Despite being top of the table, United have been criticised in some quarters, particularly following their poor performances in Europe.

But Rooney believes such criticism is not justified after they took over as favourites to win yet another EPL title, leading City by a point with 10 games remaining.

“I don't think we have been given the credit we deserve,” said Rooney. “Fair enough, Europe has been disappointing but we have had really tough games in the Premier League. We have played a lot of the top teams. Sometimes we have not been at our best but we have still got the wins.”

Rooney will miss the first two games at this summer's European Championship due to suspension and West Brom boss Roy Hodgson insists he will be sorely missed by England.

“Rooney is a world-class player and will be a major loss for England in the first two matches of Euro 2012,” he said. “We have come to terms for so long now that he won't be there that you start to think it won't matter and we will get over it. But I think you will find that the end of those two matches a lot of people are going to be talking about the fact Wayne Rooney was suspended and had he been able to play it would have helped England's chances.”

Next up for United in the EPL is a trip to struggling Wolves and Rooney will be confident of adding to his already impressive tally as United look to move a step closer to retaining their crown.

© PA Sport, 2012, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.



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