Carrick tips Rooney to keep scoring

Rooney took his Manchester United goal tally to 32 this season with

a double in Sunday’s defeat of Fulham at Old Trafford. The

24-year-old has now scored just 10 fewer than Cristiano Ronaldo

managed two years ago and a staggering 16 times in his last 11

games, a run that has helped steer United back to the top of the

Premier League and into the quarter-finals of the Champions League,

where they will discover their next opponents on Friday. Almost

inevitably, those of a less positive persuasion are questioning

whether Rooney can keep it up, not just until after United’s

campaign is over – May 22 if they reach the Champions League final

– but July 11 given that is when England are hoping to play in the

World Cup final. As someone who hopes to have a major say in both

those events himself, Carrick has his fingers tightly crossed.

“Hopefully this run will end sometime at the end of July,” said the

midfielder. “There is still a long way to go and games to play but

Wayne’s goal ratio this season is incredible. “I am sure he will

keep his performance level up. Whether he can keep scoring or makes

more of them, who knows? “He will say himself it doesn’t matter as

we are picking up trophies. “It is nice for him they are flying in

left right and centre. It was just a surprise he didn’t score with

his head.” Carrick’s tongue-in-cheek comment was a reference to the

seven goals on the trot Rooney scored with his head, a run that

only came to an end against Milan last week. But it emphasised the

improvement Rooney has made this season. Indeed, it is now

generally accepted has gatecrashed the trio of Lionel Messi,

Ronaldo and Kaka who were regarded as the best three players on the

planet. Having worked alongside him at close quarters since his own

club record £30.75million move from Tottenham in 2008, Dimitar

Berbatov knows exactly how good Rooney is. And the Bulgarian has no

hesitation in declaring the striker his number one. “At the moment

he is the best in the world,” said Berbatov. “He is still so young

and has the chance to be even greater. “Like I have told him many

times, he just needs to stay healthy and he can achieve

everything.” Berbatov certainly sees no reason why Rooney should

fail to crash through the 40 goal barrier given United have eight

league games and up to five Champions League matches left this

season. “Wayne can go over 40 because there are plenty of games

left in the season,” said Berbatov. “I wish him luck and we are all

going to help him to over the 40 mark.” Rooney will have extra

reason to play well at the weekend given Liverpool are in town.

United are set to be boosted by the return of Ryan Giggs, who is

back in full training after breaking his arm at Aston Villa last

month, whilst Sir Alex Ferguson expects to be buoyed by the return

of John O’Shea from long-term injury at the start of next month.

The Red Devils have a few Liverpool demons to exorcise too given

they have lost their last three encounters with their fierce local

rivals, with Nemanja Vidic being sent off on every occasion. There

is certainly a perception that Vidic cannot handle Fernando Torres,

which is likely to be put to the test at Old Trafford. However,

United may argue Rafael Benitez’s men will not be able to deal with

their attack either given the form Rooney is in, aided by Berbatov.

The Bulgarian took his own tally to 10 yesterday, all of which have

come in the Premier League, which makes him United’s second highest

scorer, even if he is way adrift of Rooney. Not that the

29-year-old is bothered about that. He got as much satisfaction

from the goal he created for Rooney yesterday as the one he scored

himself. “If we win it doesn’t matter who scores for me as long as

we are champions in the end,” said Berbatov. “I try to assist more.

In fact I preferred the second assist I gave to Wayne. That is

sometimes better than scoring.”