Manchester United may have to do without the injured Wayne Rooney for their remaining two games of the season as they seek a record-breaking fourth successive Premier League title. A groin injury caused Rooney to miss yesterday's 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur, which took United back to the top of the table by two points from Chelsea, who play at home to Stoke this afternoon.
Worryingly for Fabio Capello, England's captain, Rio Ferdinand, was also absent, the return of Tottenham's Aaron Lennon and United's Owen Hargreaves as substitutes hardly compensating. "Groin injuries are groin injuries and it may take two to three weeks," Sir Alex Ferguson said of Rooney, who had suffered the problem in training on Thursday. That would give him no chance of returning at Sunderland a week today and little hope of being fit for the champions' final match at home to Stoke seven days later.
United struggled for a long time to find their form in his absence, not breaking through until the 58th minute, when Ryan Giggs scored the first of two penalties. Ledley King, being watched by Capello's assistant, Franco Baldini, headed an equaliser but Nani's chip restored the lead before Giggs wrapped up three vital points.
Ferguson was delighted to take the points and exert further pressure on Chelsea, whose remaining fixtures after this afternoon are at Liverpool and then at home to Wigan.
"The most important thing was that we kept our nerve," the manager said. "This is a vital time of the season and it's a good quality to have. We needed to up our game a bit and we did that in the second half. I'm glad we've got our game out of the way and got the three points. Everyone saw Totten-ham's performances against Arsenal and Chelsea and we've beaten the in-form team of the League. It was always Chelsea's title to lose but Stoke won't roll over and [Chelsea] have a hard game at Liverpool."
Having seen their team secure the points, United's supporters were able to turn their ire on the club's owners, the Glazer family, just as they had turned laser slogans on them on Friday night, projecting "We want Glazers out" on to the walls of Old Trafford.Reuse content