Sir Alex Ferguson has said Wayne Rooney’s “frame” means that he is affected more than other players by time out of team and that he wants to see more goals from the striker, whose season has been stop-start.
Rooney has scored only three goals heading into December, one of those a penalty, which is his second worst start to a Premier League campaign. Only two years ago, when Ferguson sent him to Nike’s Portland HQ after the striker’s domestic crisis that autumn, was worse, with two penalties to show for the first four months of that season. The 27-year-old has not played more than three successive Premier League games all season, with tonsillitis ruling him out of United’s last away game which brought defeat at Norwich.
“I think he's going through a period that all strikers do - he's not scoring and it will change once he starts to [play] regularly,” Ferguson said. “It will become better for him. That’s what we're seeing. He's missing bits of games. He was off with tonsillitis again and I think Wayne is the type of player who can't miss games. The frame he's got, the type of person he is, he needs to play all the time.”
The United manager, whose side travel to Reading today, said that Luis Nani’s hamstring injury will keep him out for five weeks and the prognosis Shinji Kagawa knee injury – four weeks out at the last count – is worse than thought.
Ferguson passed up the chance to offer support to his old adversary Rafael Benitez amid the Spaniard’s struggle to win over fans at Stamford Bridge. “I think we're all subject to pressure as managers, we get used to it, “Ferguson said. This wry response prompted the suggestion, in fun, that Benitez might call Ferguson for advice in the same way that Reading’s manager Brian McDermott has done. “You never know,” Ferguson said, grinning. “Society has changed. There's a book United Unlimited [which includes] a photograph of Manchester United and Leeds United players in the middle of the pitch scrapping, jerseys torn apart, as the crowd is completely passive, no reaction from the fans. You don't get that now. It's a completely different response to everything that happens on a football field.”
The manager revealed that Anders Lindegaard had simply done nothing wrong to enable David de Gea to retain his place in Berkshire today. But he rejected the notion that he was happy to choose his goalkeeper on a game-by-game basis. A wisdom tooth infection forced De Gea to drop out of the side for the defeat at Norwich two weeks ago and Lindegaard will establish a five-game run in the side at the Madejski Stadium. De Gea will get his chance in the Champions League dead rubber on Wednesday, which may be Nemanja Vidic’s comeback game after knee surgery.
“[De Gea] is fine,” Ferguson said.” He's young, he got that tooth infection and had to get dental treatment, they had to take two of his teeth out and his jaw was swollen quite a bit so we gave him that time off. Anders has come in and done well. It’s one of those situations where there is no actuality reason to leave Anders out in terms of form and hopefully David understands that at the moment but there is no long-term issue.”
“I'm not happy to go game-by-game all the time. I really think that creates consistency. That's why I kept Anders in [for the 1-0 win over West Ham] on Wednesday night. I could easily have changed it again but he has done nothing wrong.”