Ferguson correct in his fullsome praise of special talent Rooney
JUST 10 days ago, Alex Ferguson was waxing lyrical on the topic of moder n day footballers.
The “multi millionaires in the dressing room” as he disparagingly called them, had to be treated a whole lot differently to their predecessors, those whom Ferguson had first known when he set out on his managerial career at little known East Stirlingshire in his native Scotland, way back in 1974.
Ferguson still proposed one quality as essential in dealing with the young men.
Being strong, was his antidote to player power, both then and now.
Given that the list of players with whom Ferguson has gone to war is fairly lengthy and includes notables such as David Beckham and Jaap Stam, it can be safely deducted that the Scot does not exactly leap into print with regular paeons of praise for his players.
It takes something very special for Ferguson to discard the habits of a lifetime.
Thus, it is in such a light that we should view his comments on striker Wayne Rooney following Manchester United’s Carling Cup semi-final win over their near neighbours Manchester City this week.
Rooney’s extraordinary performance merited every word of Ferguson’s warm tribute; it was, as his manager said, genuinely a world class performance, one sure to create covetous eyes in the environs of Barcelona’s Nou Camp and the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid.
Ferguson said “I thought Wayne was much better today than he was on Saturday when he scored four goals against Hull.
“His control, his leading of the line and his penetration were absolutely fantastic tonight. It was a world class display.”
It was indeed and it underlined the enormous reliance England will have on the young Manchester United player at this year’s World Cup.
Fabio Capello is still wrestling with the exact intricacies of his front line; whether the tough, bustling Emile Heskey will partner Rooney up front, or whether England could afford to go with both Rooney and the free-scoring Jermaine Defoe in the same starting line-up or indeed whether Rooney should operate just behind the front line or actually lead it himself, all alone.
By his performances this season in which he has now amassed 21 goals, Rooney is making one hell of a claim for the latter role.
His mercurial performances for Manchester United in the last seven days, against Hull City last weekend and then in midweek against City, give sustenance to the claims that Rooney is now close to becoming the best all round striker in world football. And he appears to be timing his run to the World Cup finals with absolute perfection. In one sense, that will thrill Capello. Yet in another, it will alarm him, set off warning bells all over FA headquarters at Wembley.
For what if Rooney were injured, suffering for example a repeat of that fractured metatarsal that so restricted him for the 2006 World Cup?
Perish the thought, not just from England’s point of view but for the sake of the game worldwide.
For, if a World Cup is to mean anything, it should surely be a tournament where the best parade their glittering skills.
Right now, few footballers of contemporary times have more skills to offer than the young Englishman.