English Premiership

Rooney absence to test United

2010-04-02 09:48
Sir Alex Ferguson (AFP)

Manchester - The true cost of Manchester United's decision to allow Cristiano Ronaldo to leave for Real Madrid will become apparent at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Ronaldo's absence has been felt less sharply than might have been anticipated after his 42-goal final season at the Theatre of Dreams, mainly because Wayne Rooney has stepped into his goalscoring boots with such aplomb.

But with Rooney now sidelined by an ankle ligament injury, it remains to be seen if Sir Alex Ferguson's squad have the depth of match-winning resources required to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive English title.

Victory over a Chelsea squad that has rediscovered form over the last two weeks would represent a huge step in that direction.

It would leave United four points clear at the top of the table with five games left to play and it is hard to imagine a Ferguson squad conceding that kind of advantage over the final furlong.

Rooney's absence offers Dimitar Berbatov the opportunity to convince the still-sceptical United faithful that the 30 million pounds it cost to secure the Bulgarian's services in 2008 represented a shrewd investment by Ferguson.

Berbatov's languid style has led some fans to question his appetite for hard graft but his superb touch and imagination are appreciated by his team-mates, as well as by Ferguson.

"We showed this season we play as a team," the centreback, Nemanja Vidic, said. "It is not just about one man. Definitely Wayne Rooney has had a great season. He is unbelievable, one of the best in the world.

"But sometimes big players are missing and others need to be ready."

"Dimitar had a great game against Bolton on Saturday. He is a great footballer. He scored twice himself and can set up goals for other players as well. We have a good squad. We just need to believe in ourselves and believe in each other."

While United have been deprived of their principal source of goals, Chelsea are in a rich vein of scoring form having hit the net 12 times in their last two outings.

Their manager, Carlo Ancelotti, recognised that Rooney's absence will affect United, although he believes it might easily galvanise the rest of the squad into raising their game.

"Maybe sometimes a team can give more than 100 per cent when an important player is out," the Italian warned. "We have to pay attention to this.

"We need to show our play and do it for 90 minutes and stay concentrated. Man Utd are a very dangerous team and have a lot of players who can create difficulties for us."

Ancelotti believes the title race will go to the final day, regardless of the result on Sunday.

"The destiny after the game will be with the winners, but nothing will be decided," he said.

Didier Drogba's return to full fitness has given Ancelotti a dilemma over whether to change a side that thrashed Aston Villa 7-1 last weekend, with Nicolas Anelka leading the line in impressive fashion. But all the signs are that the Ivory Coast striker will be on the starting sheet.

"He is a very important player, he has scored 30 goals," Ancelotti added. "The other strikers did a great job against Villa without him, but he is very important to us."

A John Terry strike gave Chelsea a 1-0 win when the two sides met at Stamford Bridge in November, but Ancelotti does not read too much into that result. "We are playing for the title so psychologically it is different."


LIVE: Bafana v Nigeria

2015-03-29 14:00


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

04 April 2015
Arsenal v Liverpool, Emirates Stadium 13:45
Everton v Southampton, Goodison Park 16:00
Leicester City v West Ham United, King Power Stadium 16:00
Swansea City v Hull City, Liberty Stadium 16:00
Manchester United v Aston Villa, Old Trafford 16:00
West Bromwich Albion v Queens Park Rangers, The Hawthorns 16:00
Chelsea v Stoke City, Stamford Bridge 18:30
05 April 2015
Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur, Turf Moor 14:30
Sunderland v Newcastle United, Stadium of Light 17:00
06 April 2015
Crystal Palace v Manchester City, Selhurst Park 21:00
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Would Lionel Messi be as potent in the EPL as he is in La Liga?

Love 2 Meet

Got something you'd like to get off your chest? Got a burning desire to air an opinion? If so, be sure to sign-up on Sport24's FORUM!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.