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?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'