Rooney is our Pele – Fergie

It has been sung by the Stretford End for a few years now, in

recognition of the 25-year-old’s status as a player of special

talent. And, in responding to an observation from Benfica coach

Jorge Jesus that Rooney is “more Brazilian or Argentinian” than

English in the way he plays the game ahead of tomorrow night’s

Champions League encounter with United at the Stadium of Light,

Ferguson made his own comparison. “Look at Pele,” said Ferguson.

“He was a very aggressive attacker as well who could look after

himself. So can Rooney. There are similarities that way in

strength, speed and determination. “But he is white, completely

white.” In fact, Ferguson thinks of Rooney as the very best of

British, boasting the same desire, work ethic and talent as United

legends of old. “Wayne is a typical British player. But there have

been British players who have great qualities that made them great

players. “(Paul) Gascoigne, George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis

Law. “The similarities are that the boy has great courage. He wants

to play all the time. He has incredible stamina. These are added

extras to the talent he has.” That talent has been on show to great

effect so far this season, as Rooney has scored eight times in four

Premier League games, leaving him just three adrift of his tally

from last year. Jesus has been watching the England striker

closely. And he is adamant Rooney has no peer in his native land.

“Rooney is the best British player so far,” he said. “But he plays

like an Argentinian or Brazilian. He can decide a match in the last

third of the field. We will have to pay great attention to him

tomorrow.” As Rooney has proved in the past, paying attention to

someone and actually stopping them are two entirely different

things. On present form, it is just a matter of time before the

former Everton star flies past his personal record haul of 34,

achieved before suffering the ankle injury he suffered against

Bayern Munich in March 2010 that reduced his powers for almost 12

months. Indeed, Ferguson feels it should be a twin target. For, as

Javier Hernandez marked his first start of the season with a double

in the five-goal destruction of Bolton on Saturday, Ferguson sees

no reason for the pair to stop scoring. “I am sure his best ever

goals season is a target for him,” said Ferguson. “He doesn’t come

out at the start of a season and think that way but it happened two

years ago when the target was to go over 30 and he reached it very

quickly. “If he gets to that target again I will be absolutely

delighted because with Javier’s ability to score we could have two

goalscorers well above 25.” Ferguson is still mulling over his

options for United’s first Champions League game since they were

overwhelmed by Barcelona in last season’s final. Darren Fletcher,

Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-sung and last season’s joint Golden Boot winner

Dimitar Berbatov have yet to start a game this term. Having left

Rio Ferdinand at home as a precaution and with Nemanja Vidic yet to

start training after suffering a calf injury in the opening-weekend

win at West Brom, Ferguson needs to pay careful attention to his

line-up ahead of such a packed fixture list. “The season starts

when the Champions League comes around because then you are into

games all the time,” he said. “We have the game tomorrow, Chelsea

on Sunday, Leeds United next Tuesday, Stoke away the following

Saturday, so obviously the squad will be used. “Rio has stayed

behind as a precaution and Vidic has not started training yet, so

that will be at least two weeks. “I have not decided about tomorrow

yet but it wouldn’t worry me to play the team that has been doing

well.” Although he has been omitted from the roll-call of young

stars who have electrified the season so far, Anderson has

responded to extra responsibility in midfield with a series of

effective displays. At 23, the Brazilian is hardly a veteran. On

his return to Portugal, though, the former Porto midfielder is

proving to be a very handy replacement for Paul Scholes. “It has

been a great season for me so far,” he admitted. “Hopefully I can

follow in Paul Scholes’ footsteps.”