Alex Ferguson gives Wayne Rooney share of praise

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The Independent Football

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson made sure Wayne Rooney took a share of the acclaim after Dimitar Berbatov's five-goal blast against Blackburn.

Bulgarian Berbatov ended a 10-game run without a goal in spectacular fashion in United's 7-1 trouncing of Sam Allardyce's men at Old Trafford, following former United striker Andy Cole, Alan Shearer and Jermain Defoe by becoming the fourth player to hit five goals in a Premier League game.

While Berbatov described it as "a great honour" to be in such company, Ferguson was quick to congratulate both the hero of the hour and strike partner Rooney, who is still searching for his first goal in open play since September.

Although Berbatov's contribution was the most note-worthy, Ferguson said: "He and Wayne were fantastic today.

"They were a constant threat. Their movement, passing and one-twos. It was a top performance by both of them.

"They have an understanding from the previous two years. It is very pleasing to get that."

Whether the pair continue their partnership tomorrow at West Ham remains to be seen.

United travel to Upton Park for their Carling Cup quarter-final and Ferguson is likely to make changes, although he has recently made the point that Rooney needs plenty of game-time under his belt to gain full match fitness.

The other United goals on Saturday came from Park Ji-sung and Nani, with Christopher Samba getting a consolation for humbled Blackburn, who Allardyce admitted were "completely outplayed".

Although West Ham remain bottom of the Premier League, they are improving and that was confirmed by Saturday's 3-1 home win against Wigan.

Goals from Valon Behrami, Victor Obinna and Scott Parker earned the points, and manager Avram Grant hailed captain Parker for playing, and starring, despite reporting in sick.

Grant enthused: "He always gives it 100%, he was sick but came in and wanted to push to play, and scored a fantastic goal.

"He did unbelievable things and is the modern midfield player - wins balls, blocks shots, scoring goals, giving assists. What more can you say?"

Wigan have remained in the London area in anticipation of their Carling Cup clash with Arsenal tomorrow evening.

That looks a foreboding task for Roberto Martinez's team, who have the fewest goals of all in the Premier League and a porous defence.

Arsenal are in scoring form too, after beating Aston Villa 4-2 on Saturday with goals from Andrey Arshavin, Samir Nasri, Marouane Chamakh and Jack Wilshere.

They were without the injured Cesc Fabregas and could rest some senior men tomorrow, but Wenger is delighted by his squad, saying: "No matter who plays, I feel we can produce good team play."

Stoke manager Tony Pulis hailed the collective spirit of his players after Matthew Etherington hit a late equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw with Manchester City.

City went ahead through Micah Richards in the 81st minute, but the big-spending Eastlands outfit could not hold on, and Pulis said: "You can have all the money in the world and all the top players but you need to be a team."

West Brom face a cup date at Ipswich on Wednesday, and could hardly have prepared better after drubbing Everton 4-1 at Goodison Park, with Paul Scharner, Chris Brunt, Somen Tchoyi and Youssouf Mulumbu netting.

Manager Roberto Di Matteo raved: "I thought we played some fantastic football, we didn't show any fear."

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy brushed off speculation about his job security following a 3-2 home win over Sunderland, and after substitutes Stephen Hunt and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake scored to help the hosts turn around a 2-1 deficit the Yorkshireman quipped: "I must be a great manager."

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish will be pleased his side have a home Carling Cup tie against Aston Villa on Wednesday - because they still cannot win away from St Andrew's.

Clint Dempsey grabbed an equaliser to cancel out Sebastian Larsson's opener as Birmingham drew 1-1 at Fulham on Saturday.

McLeish is not worried by the fact his team have not registered an away win this season, saying: "I couldn't care less. If we can keeping winning at home and take four points out of six every two games, I think we will be okay.

"Some day we will win away from home but nobody has discussed that at all."