Belfast Telegraph

Jones: Rooney not all about goals

Phil Jones does not believe Wayne Rooney has to score in order to make a positive contribution to the Manchester United cause.

Rooney bagged his first Premier League goals since September as United romped to a 4-1 victory over Wolves in front of their biggest crowd of the season at Old Trafford. However, Rooney also missed the Red Devils' best chance as they crashed out of the Champions League to Basle.

But Jones feels goals should not be the only factor by why Rooney's contribution is judged. He said: "Wayne was brilliant, but he still has an influence on the team even when he is not scoring. The things he does off the ball are terrific as well."

He added: "People sometimes don't take that into consideration. They look at his goal tally and think he is not doing well but he has been terrific for us."

Nevertheless, after scoring nine times in his first six league games of the season, Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping Rooney "goes on a spurt" over the congested Festive programme as United approach the New Year's Day deadline their manager uses as the marker for how they will be challenging for the Premier League title in May.

He will hope for a favour from old rivals Chelsea, who meet leaders Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Monday. However, after the disastrous European experience in midweek, Ferguson will be pleasantly surprised at the ease with which his side brought some stability back to the season.

It gave him the opportunity of returning to the defence of his young players, heavily criticised by Roy Keane, amongst others, in his assessment of the defeat in Switzerland.

"I don't understand people doubting these players," said Ferguson. "(Danny) Welbeck, (Chris) Smalling and (Phil) Jones have played for their country. If they are not that good, why are England playing them? They are fantastic young players. They will be the foundation of our club for years."

It expanded on a comment Ferguson made in his programme notes about criticism "from people we thought perhaps were on our side".

"Though we may gnash our teeth, there is no use wailing about it."

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