Ferguson tips Rooney to be world beater

Sir Alex Ferguson has tipped Wayne Rooney to gatecrash the elite trio currently monopolising world football.

Rooney is set to make his 50th European appearance tomorrow when Manchester United entertain German champions Wolfsburg.

The first three goals came in a dramatic debut-night hat-trick against Fenerbahce at exactly the same point in the Champions League, heralding his £27million arrival from Everton.

Although there have been moments Rooney has cause to regret, not least his red card for sarcastically applauding referee Kim Milton Nielsen in Villarreal, and there were plenty of occasions when he was upstaged by former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, at no point has the 23-year-old given Ferguson any other belief than he is destined for the top.

The United boss feels Rooney has some work to do before he can be put into the same bracket as Kaka and Ronaldo, who were crowned world player of the year in the last two seasons, and Lionel Messi, who is set to receive the honour this autumn.

But he has no doubts the Merseysider will get there eventually.

"Wayne could easily get to that level," said Ferguson.

"It was a pretty remarkable feat to get that hat-trick and his progress has never disappointed us at any point since.

"When we signed him as a kid, we thought he would become a really top player. Without question he is going in that direction.

"He is blessed with some ingredients only great footballers have.

"He has a great determination and hunger to win every match and every training session. That will never change.

"Sometimes there is criticism about the amounts footballers get paid. But when you see the effort he puts in, he is worth every penny.

"He plays as if he means it. It is a wonderful thing to have."

Jonny Evans was able to verify that assessment of Rooney's competitive spirit. Less sure is the Northern Ireland international about his team-mate's ability to fill a central defensive role.

"Wayne is a nightmare," he said.

"He is always complaining and he always wants to win.

"His form has been great this season. He is playing through the middle now and is probably in his most favourite position.

"I don't think he can play centre-half though. All the lads try different positions. Berbatov did it yesterday. He was awful."

Unwittingly, Evans got both himself and his girlfriend drawn into a debate Fabio Capello triggered about Rooney a couple of weeks ago.

The England coach has claimed marriage has been a benefit to Rooney, something that would be manna from heaven for Ferguson, who has always espoused the settling effects having a wife can have.

Currently single Evans - and his girlfriend, who was part of the press conference having just begun a week's work placement with host broadcaster ITV - listened intently, until the focus changed and had the young defender squirming.

"I don't want to talk about it," he said.

"My girlfriend is sat there in the middle of you all."

Ferguson though was warming to his theme.

"Marriage helps footballers," said the Scot.

"It is good for the stability of a footballer to get married. They settle down. You know where they are."

And then, isolating his target: "Get him tied down dear. Rings are cheap now."

Evans was glad when the subject changed, with Ferguson confirming Park Ji-sung had been ruled out after picking up a virus.

Not that the South Korean's absence should cause United much trouble.

Wolfsburg are expected to be the Red Devils' main challengers for group supremacy, with strikers Grafite and Edin Dzeko a particular threat given the Germans' free-scoring ways.

Any foe from the Bundesliga needs to be respected. But in the end, Ferguson expects United to form part of another strong English challenge for a tournament they have dominated for the last three years.

"Real Madrid's signings in the summer have created a bit of a flutter in Spain and they are getting a bit excited over there again," he said.

"But I see no reason why the English clubs will not be there again."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks