Rooney con­cerned as Vardy eyes record against mis­fir­ing United

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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

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