Ferguson hails Rooney improvement
Sir Alex Ferguson is banking on Wayne Rooney to smash through the 30-goal barrier this season.
It is not too much of a target for the Manchester United striker given he took his tally to 25 with his second-half double in the momentous 3-2 Champions League win over AC Milan in the San Siro last night.
But Ferguson feels the goalscoring aspect of Rooney's game is driving him on to a new level, right to the very top of the world game.
"He could break 30," declared the United boss.
"This season in particular, over the last two months, there has been a marked improvement in his game.
"Confidence has a lot to do with it of course.
"I just felt he had to improve his goalscoring, which is what he is doing now.
"His overall performance was absolutely devastating. Milan couldn't handle him. They just couldn't handle him.
"He has to be regarded at the highest level, along with all the other players we know about."
Rooney's magic appeared to have confirmed United's place in the last eight, only for Clarence Seedorf to give Milan a glimmer of hope.
In fact, Ferguson admitted it was fortunate United had not sustained more damage during a one-sided opening in which Ronaldinho gave Milan a third-minute lead and then both he and Klaas Jan Huntelaar failed to take excellent chances to make matters much worse for the visitors.
"That first 20 minutes was a bad period for us," said Ferguson.
"We could have been two or three down because the bad start gave Milan encouragement.
"But we were desperate to hang on and thankfully we got ourselves back into it."
The visitors managed that through Paul Scholes' left shin, which Darren Fletcher's cross hit after the former England star had failed to make contact with his intended right-footed shot.
From there it was glory all the way for United until Seedorf struck to set up a nervy last five minutes during which Michael Carrick was shown a second yellow card for time-wasting, ruling him out of the Old Trafford return on March 10.
"I didn't know what it was for at first but then I was told he kicked the ball away," said Ferguson.
"It was a soft red card but when you do something like that you are not really giving the referee any option."
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