Rooney concerned as Vardy eyes record against misfiring United
LONDON: Wayne Rooney says misfiring Manchester United should follow the example of record-chasing Jamie Vardy in their summit meeting with surprise Premier League leaders Leicester today. Leicester striker Vardy will make history at the King Power Stadium if he scores for a Premier League record 11th successive match and his record bid couldn’t come at a more uncomfortable time for the struggling Rooney and United’s other out-ofform forwards. With 13 league goals this season, Vardy has scored more than all of United’s strikers combined and fittingly it is former Old Trafford great Ruud van Nistelrooy whose record he will break if he finds the net this weekend.
Rooney and his fellow United forwards have only nine league goals to their credit and they drew a blank again in midweek with a 0-0 draw against PSV Eindhoven that left them in danger of missing out of the Champions League knockout stages. United captain Rooney is well aware of the threat posed by Vardy after linking up with the prolific 28-year-old on England duty and he wants his team-mates to start showing the kind of composure and predatory instincts displayed by the Leicester star.
“No, we’re not,” Rooney said when asked if his team were ruthless enough. “I think we need to score more goals as a team. “I feel we showed a lack of composure which put ourselves under pressure a lot of times. “It’s a learning curve for us, but we can’t go on saying it’s a learning curve. We have to start turning these games into victories.” If Vardy does break van Nistelrooy’s record it will continue a remarkable rise for a player who was in non-league football with Fleetwood only a few years ago and last season scored just five goals for Leicester.
Hot property After firing Leicester in contention for a European berth less than a year after they were battling relegation, Vardy is such a hot property that Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri this week felt compelled to plead with the forward to ignore offers from bigger clubs in the January transfer window. “At the moment we’re very happy and also Jamie is happy with us and he can continue to show his strength with us,” Ranieri said.
“Jamie is now a champion. He has to take confidence in this. He’s a strong character because he comes from nonleague.” A win for United, who have failed to score in four of their last seven matches, would take them to the top of the table, but a draw would open the door for Manchester City to regain first place. From a position of strength at the top a week ago, City suddenly face a test of their staying power against Southampton. —AFP
Severely stretched Defenders Pablo Zabaleta and Eliaquim Mangala were also absent for the midweek European tie to leave City’s squad severely stretched. But Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure is not looking for excuses and he knows City are capable of going back to the head of the Premier League with the top two of Leicester and Manchester United playing each other this weekend. “We have a fantastic squad. We had quite a lot of injuries from important players but we have to live with that,” Toure said. “We have to forget this game (at Juventus) and try to bounce back in the league.”
Ronald Koeman’s Southampton, beaten at home by Stoke last weekend, have seen their hopes of increasing the pressure on the top six take a blow after Jay Rodriguez was told he faces another lay-off following foot surgery. The striker only recently returned to full fitness after missing the whole of last season with a knee ligament injury and will now be sidelined for two months. “Jay had the surgery last Tuesday and we are happy about that, because that was the best to do. That was a good final decision to do that, but then you know he’s maybe out for seven to eight weeks,” Koeman said.
“But we don’t have other injuries and the team is fit, the team is doing good training sessions and that’s always important to have a good feeling for the today game.” With Graziano Pelle also missing while he serves a one-match suspension, Koeman’s forward options will be stretched for the trip to Eastlands. But Southampton captain Jose Fonte said: “We have other players in the team, so we need to deal with it. Obviously Graziano is an important part in our team and it is going to be difficult without him. “But we have trust in the other players as well. We all know the philosophy that we have and we’ll try and play our game there.”— AFP
Leicester City’s English striker Jamie Vardy