Manchester United must learn to win without Rooney says Phelan

Manchester United assistant boss Mike Phelan has admitted the Red Devils must learn to win without Wayne Rooney.

Although United have lost matches with their 34-goal talisman in the side this season, the wheels have fallen off their domestic campaign since Rooney suffered an ankle injury during the last minutes of the Champions League first-leg defeat to Bayern Munich.

With Rooney out, United failed to make any impression on Chelsea in their top-of-the-table duel at Old Trafford until it was far too late.

That defeat looked like being costly even before, again lacking Rooney, they failed to score at Blackburn yesterday, a result that leaves them a point adrift of Chelsea, having played a game more.

The results have done nothing to dilute the impression of United being a one-man team, a situation Alan Shearer alluded to recently and a view the former England captain is certainly not alone in sharing.

And while Phelan does not subscribe to that view, Sir Alex Ferguson's number two does accept United have to be capable of operating without their main man.

"We can't rely on that situation (Rooney)," Phelan told the BBC.

"Wayne Rooney is having an exceptional season. We can't get away from that.

"But this is Manchester United. We have a lot of other quality players in the squad.

"At times you are going to miss people. When that happens, others have to come to the front and show the calibre that brought them to the club in the first place."

Not many did that yesterday.

Although Antonio Valencia was United's most obvious attacking threat, the Ecuador star also missed their best chance.

On the other wing, Nani was wasteful in possession too often.

Between them, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs struggled to impose themselves as they would have liked.

Federico Macheda, for all his talent, was anonymous and his strike partner Dimitar Berbatov cut an increasingly desperate figure.

Berbatov cannot be expected to shoulder the responsibility for all United's present travails.

But he is clearly not delivering what Ferguson expected when he splashed out a club record £30.75million on him at the start of last season, a decision that now looks even worse because it was the trigger for Carlos Tevez's growing disenchantment that eventually saw him move across Manchester to City.

There was more to that deal than mere annoyance with Sir Alex Ferguson.

Rumours at Old Trafford have continued for months that Tevez's "purchase" price was £40million, a sum the player is still not worth, despite his brilliance this season.

There is little doubt though that Tevez's energy is better suited to the United style than Berbatov's silky skills.

It could certainly be the trigger for supporter backing, something Berbatov has struggled to inspire.

That Tevez can kill off the slenderest of title hopes United still harbour at the weekend when United visit Eastlands provides the backdrop for probably the only fixture Ferguson's men could approach at the present time without their thoughts being dominated by what has gone wrong.

Ferguson welcomes the derby as a chance to secure bragging rights for the next few months, although United fans have been reduced to hoping they can dent City's hopes of accompanying their neighbours into the Champions League next term.

Rooney should be fit, although Rio Ferdinand's participation depends on the severity of a groin injury that reduced the 31-year-old to the role of passenger yesterday and could yet cause worry to England coach Fabio Capello.

"It has not been the greatest couple of weeks," conceded Phelan.

"The last three games have not gone the way that we wanted but you have to take these things on board and you have to carry on.

"The title is not in our hands now, which is disappointing because you always want control of situations. We have not got that.

"But it is not over yet. There are a lot of big games to be played.

"It is a funny season and hopefully we will still be in it at the end."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
news
Life and Style
love + sex
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United 1 player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot