FA Cup: Alex Ferguson puts loving arm around Wayne Rooney


A domestic double is not a bad incentive with which to start a new week, even when the previous one has brought such disappointment. Throw in a sense of injustice and it seems more likely that Manchester United will be fired up than feeling sorry for themselves when they walk out against Chelsea at Old Trafford today.

Sir Alex Ferguson does not forget, but nor does he dwell on the past, except as a spur to the future. Thus, by the end of Friday's media conference he was back in paternal mood when the subject turned to Wayne Rooney.

Whatever Rooney's reaction was to being left out against Real Madrid in midweek, it was easy to envisage the managerial arm going round him, as newspapers and the Football Association were identified as the common enemy; the FA's crime apparently being asking the United player to undertake too many interviews when on England duty.

"I keep telling him he's too trusting," Ferguson said. "I told him, 'I don't know why you do it with the FA'. He does things every time he goes down there. He should not be doing anything with them, they've not helped him one bit. Every time he does anything they punish him more than anyone in the game. He should be realising that. He shouldn't have to do anything for the FA. They force him to do it."

And then the vote of confidence, designed to send him out feeling loved after all against Chelsea: "He got me 32 goals last year. He's had a lot of issues this year in terms of illness, injuries and not had a long run of games, but he's got me 14 goals from probably two-thirds of the appearances of last year. He'll get 20 goals, no doubt about that. I've said before, if he gets over 20, Chicharito [Javier Hernandez] over 20 and Van Persie's there just now, we're talking over 60 goals and that's put us right in the ballpark."

In the Wembley park too, unless Chelsea, with their outstanding FA Cup record, can counter whichever of that trio – plus Danny Welbeck – Ferguson decides to send out today. Rooney and Hernandez, who scores regularly against Chelsea, would hardly be out of the question.

Manchester United v Chelsea is on ITV today, kick-off 4.30pm