English Premiership

Rooney to survive taunts?

2010-09-10 09:42
Wayne Rooney (AP)

United Kingdom - Sir Alex Ferguson will pin his faith in the mental strength of Wayne Rooney when Manchester United travel to Everton for a potentially explosive clash on Saturday.

Rooney has endured a largely miserable week due to lurid allegations about his private life and the striker has been told to expect a hostile reception from home supporters on his return to Goodison Park to face his former club.

Huge doubts remain over Rooney's state of mind after allegations he slept with prostitutes while his wife Coleen was pregnant, but Ferguson will have assessed his mental state ahead of United's trip to Merseyside.

United boss Ferguson has a history of standing by his players and going the extra mile to ensure they are made to feel safe and protected in the confines of Old Trafford.

He famously flew to France to persuade Eric Cantona not to quit in 1995 after the Football Association extended his ban to eight months following his infamous kung-fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan.

Rooney could be in no better hands while the controversy swirls over his alleged misdemeanours and former United favourite David May believes Ferguson's experience of dealing with such scandals will be crucial.

May said: "Wayne will be handled perfectly at United. The one thing that every player who has ever played for United during Sir Alex Ferguson's reign says is that the manager is like a father figure.

"I went in to see the manager on a few occasions when untrue stories had been written about me in the newspapers. You get the best support from him and an unbiased opinion.

"He stands by his players and he is a fantastic bloke for that. If you have problems you go into his office and talk it through and you come out of the meeting with a huge weight off your shoulders.

"I would hate to be going through what Wayne will be going through now. It is bad publicity but he will get a fair hearing with Sir Alex. No matter what is said it will remain private.

"Wayne is at the right club to get through this. He is adored by the fans and if anyone can help sort it out and help work his way through the mess then it will be Ferguson."

Rooney managed to rediscover his scoring touch in England's midweek triumph in Switzerland and now Ferguson will be hoping he can continue to do the same at club level.

But Everton will sense blood as they look to pull off a shock victory at Goodison Park.

Steven Pienaar is determined Rooney will not be the only attacking player making the headlines as he looks to end a goal drought lasting six months at the expense of Ferguson's side.

The South African international, who hasn't scored since March, is desperate to contribute to a team that has scored just one league goal in three games so far this season.

He said: "I don't think the team has been playing badly and we've been unfortunate not to pick up three points. That's football - sometimes you play well and don't win games.

"Hopefully on Saturday we can get a win. Maybe we're short on luck at the moment but we have to keep going and it will come.

"We need goals and I want to score more. I was close at Aston Villa and I was close with the national team last weekend. Hopefully it will come this Saturday.

"It would be great for me personally because a lot of my friends support Manchester United in South Africa and it would be something for me to boast about.

"But it would also be great for the team as well if we can get maximum points."

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