Ferguson: Just the 40 goals will do, Wayne
Sir Alex Ferguson does not intend to be greedy and demand Wayne Rooney matches Cristiano Ronaldo's 42-goal haul from two seasons ago — 40 would be enough for the hard-to-please Manchester United boss.
Golden eye: Wayne Rooney gets an early glimpse of the World Cup at the start of the trophy’s tour of the UK, in London yesterday. PA
After breaking the 30 barrier with his double in Wednesday night's incredible four-goal demolition of AC Milan at Old Trafford, Rooney is not setting himself any targets for the remaining two months of the campaign.
Even Ferguson has tended to be reluctant, insisting his only aim for Rooney was 30, despite United's number one striker being on 27 when the Scot last said it.
But, at a sponsorship announcement for Telekom Malaysia at Old Trafford yesterday lunchtime, Ferguson did acknowledge Ronaldo's 42 — an achievement that helped earn him the world player of the year honour in 2008 — is a definite possibility.
“I am delighted he has got to 30,” said Ferguson.
“That is what I wanted. But he is there now.
“We have nine league games left and hopefully five European matches, so that is 14 in total. If he gets a goal a game he will do it.
“But I am not greedy. I would be happy if he got to 40.”
The sight of Ronaldo disappearing down the tunnel at the Bernabeu, clearly unhappy at Real Madrid's failure to reach the last eight, was a reminder of how well United have adapted to life without the Portugal superstar.
But quite apart from Rooney, others are coming to the fore — including Park Ji-sung and Nani, who had largely been viewed as bit-part players at best.
Doing so much selfless running behind Rooney in an advanced midfield role, Park scored United's third against Milan, while Nani created the second with a brilliant pass.
And Gary Neville’s return is another welcome boost and a timely one for the right-back which could open a surprise door to the World Cup finals for England in South Africa.
Neville won the last of his 85 caps against Spain three years ago and has only figured in one Capello squad, but with Manchester United team-mate Wes Brown ruled out for six weeks after breaking his foot at Wolves on Saturday, and Liverpool's Glen Johnson only just back from long-term injury himself, suddenly Neville is being talked about as a contender.
“England is out of my hands,” said Neville.
“It has not happened for two to three years and I am not holding out for a call but I have not retired. I always said I never would.
“I am playing for United and would play for my country.”