United seek Premier summit

Wayne Rooney will make his first Old Trafford start in more than a month as Manchester United chase first place in the Premier League. The striker, who Thursday made a half-hearted apology to United supporters, is yet to score a goal in open play this season. Elsewhere manager Sir Alex Ferguson faces midfield selection problems .

Ferguson is without Darren Fletcher, who has a sore ankle, and Paul Scholes, absent with a tweaked a groin muscle sustained in midweek, for Blackburn Rovers’ visit where victory could catapult United to the Premier League summit. United remains second only on goal difference, with Chelsea set to play on Sunday.

The race for the league title now begins in earnest, with the Rooney saga now all but over. Indeed, Rooney could be key in securing United leadership before the New Year with Chelsea faltering in recent weeks.

“He needs games,” said Ferguson of Rooney.

“The way we are going to do that is to keep him on the pitch for 90 minutes. That will continue now as we try to get him to his level. He is rusty, that is obvious, but it is a start for him.

“Playing is the name of the game for him now.”

The absentees in midfield could mean a start for Anderson, who has been rarely used this season due to poor form, fitness and a recent illness. The Brazilian overcame knee-ligament damage sustained in February but suffered with the ‘flu virus that swept the United camp over the past fortnight.

Ferguson must also choose whether to keep faith with Dimitar Berbatov, who has now failed to score in more than 13 hours, stretching across 10 matches, since the Bulgarian scored a hat-trick against Liverpool in September. Berbatov sat out last weekend’s victory over Wigan Athletic but returned – to mixed reviews – against Rangers in the Champions League on Wednesday. Six-goal Javier Hernández waits in the wings

Elsewhere United can welcome back first choice central defensive pairing Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic after Ferguson rested the duo for the visit to Scotland,, with Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling dropping to the bench.

Ryan Giggs may also find himself benched after completing the full 90 minutes at Ibrox on Wednesday night.

The focus remains on Rooney though after the 25-year-old scored the match-winning penalty against Rangers. Ferguson praised Rooney’s “courage” in stroking home the 87th minute spot-kick and is likely to offer the former Evertonian another 90 minutes against Blackburn.

However, Rooney’s apology to United fans on Thursday has not received universal acceptance, coming 22 days after the striker signed a lavish £180,000 per week contract with the club. Rooney claimed to have already apologised – which he had not – before offering a somewhat half-hearted statement.

“I feel like I have apologised to the fans, but everyone keeps saying that I haven’t and, if that is the case, then I apologise for my side of things.

“I have made my point clear since I signed my contract that I am committed to this club for the long term and I want to be successful with this club. I spoke with the manager and [the chief executive] David Gill and they reassured me the club was moving forward and, from that point, it took only two or three hours to negotiate my contract and sign it.

“Everyone is saying that I was definitely going to Man City. Believe me, if I had gone it wouldn’t have been in England.”

However, the striker’s statement contradicts the widely held view that Rooney was prepared to accept a £260,000 per week offer from cross-town neighbours Manchester City before bowing to media and supporter pressuring and inking a new deal at Old Trafford.

Meanwhile, Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce is missing several key players for the short trip to Old Trafford. Keith Andrews, Vince Grella, Benjani, Steven Nzonzi, Martin Olsson and Brett Emerton all miss the match through injury, while Mame Diouf is ineligible to play against his parent club.

Blackburn has not beaten United since the 4-3 victory at Ewood Park in February 2006 – a run of nine matches. United, with Rooney seeking a first goal in open play this season, has little intention of letting that
run end today.

Opposition
Blackburn – 451 – Robinson; Samba, Givet, Nelsen, Salgado; Dunn, Pedersen, Goulon, Hoilett, Diouf; Roberts. Subs from: Chimbonda, Jones, Bunn, Hanley, Morris, Kalinic, Hanley, Doran.

United
United – 442 – van der Sar; Rafael da Silva, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Nani, Anderson, Carrick, Park – Rooney, Berbatov. Subs from: Kuzszazk, Amos, Fabio da Silva, Evans, Smalling, O’Shea, Brown, Gibson, Obertan, Bébé, Giggs, Hernández, Macheda.

Officials
Referee: Lee Probert
Assistant referees: Patrick Keane & Trevor Massey
Fourth official: Chris Foy

Form
United – WDDWWW
Blackburn – WLWWLL

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Comments

  1. says

    rooney is full of shit because he is essentially a misguided, misadvised thick cunt

    HOWEVER, we need him and need to embrace him back with open arms. forgive but don’t forget and we will all forget if he goes on now to drag us towards a trophy or two.

    he can make a difference – a massive difference. with nani displaying more consistent displays of world class ability, and hernandez having that golden knack of scoring, there is more to be positive about.

    prediction; 2-0 United.

  2. dantes says

    Instead of Park, we could put Rooney in that position and put Chicha in Rooney’s. Fuck, we desperately need a few good midfielders…

  3. Sidsidney says

    Man Utd: Van der Sar, Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Anderson, Park, Berbatov, Rooney.

    Subs: Kuszczak, Giggs, Hernandez, O’Shea, Evans, Fletcher, Obertan

    Carrick and Anderson will be interesting

  4. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    sidney said:
    Let’s hope we can hang on for another 5 minutes

    I wanted the clean sheet for my fantasy team Sid… I’m having a brutal season…

  5. bman says

    In other good news, Cleverly and Welbeck have scored. That’s a good run of goals Welbeck’s putting together.

    But what do we do with a player like Berba? 10 scoreless games and then 5 in 1. He’s got a 11 goals for 11 games started now.

  6. han says

    brilliant game
    blackburn were shite but considering they had won 4 out of the previous 5 games, united made them look awful
    shame about the late goal going in but berbatov looked all of a 30 million pound player today
    hope this will do his confidence the boost he needed

  7. kramer says

    the whole team was fantastic, top notch.
    berbatov worked very hard against rangers, and the same today. the goal with which he scored his hattrick was exceptional. he won the ball in defence, made a backheel to evra, got it back, swept a super cross field pass to nani and was in the penalty area to finish.
    if obertan had scored, that would’ve been one of the goals of the season. 10 seconds from 1 penalty area to the other.
    every single player was great, except johnny evans, poor guy.

    anyway, welbeck scored again although sunderland lost, and cleverly won a penalty and scored wigan’s only goal, although they lost. good stuff.

  8. says

    Just1n said:
    unbelievable performance.

    Well done Berbatov. Now to do this on a regular basis.

    Not a chance!!! We have to win the league and he has to finish our top scorer before i stop thinking he is a waste of money. He has not scored in the Champions League for us you know….

  9. Just1n says

    Calvino said:
    Not a chance!!! We have to win the league and he has to finish our top scorer before i stop thinking he is a waste of money. He has not scored in the Champions League for us you know….

    I know that Cal. He is not my favorite but give him credit for a top performance today. We like moaning when he does fuck all so give him his due today.

  10. sheesh says

    kramer said:

    every single player was great, except johnny evans, poor guy.

    You just knew we were going to concede when Evans came on. He should have written his telephone number on his forehead so that Samba could arrange to back to his place and dry rape him. Had Vidic stayed on the pitch, there’s no way he would have let Samba rise unchallenged to meet the header.

    All in all, that was easily our best performance of the season. Even players like Park and Carrick played really well. Rooney looked sharp and hungry – as did Berbatov. Nani was outstanding today but Anderson was my man of the match. The way he kept things ticking over in centre mid but also kept driving forward and making decent passes was phenomenal. Fergie has to let Anderson have a run in centre mid alongside Carrick as Fletcher has been shite thus far and it would be unfair on Anderson to drop him for Scholes.

    What was particularly pleasing about today was that we played so well without Scholes and Giggs.

  11. captainhormonecaptainhormone says

    anderson is young, and thus our future…..scholes is the best midfielder we have and like it or not Fletcher is our most energetic…..they should be our 3 in the middle…Carrick is at the the age where he needs to be sold…..not the player we bought and hasn’t kicked on…..he is the one to be dropped so Anderson can grow

  12. captainhormonecaptainhormone says

    Calvino said:
    Not a chance!!! We have to win the league and he has to finish our top scorer before i stop thinking he is a waste of money. He has not scored in the Champions League for us you know….

    harsh but true

  13. says

    sheesh said:
    You just knew we were going to concede when Evans came on. He should have written his telephone number on his forehead so that Samba could arrange to back to his place and dry rape him. Had Vidic stayed on the pitch, there’s no way he would have let Samba rise unchallenged to meet the header.

    All in all, that was easily our best performance of the season. Even players like Park and Carrick played really well. Rooney looked sharp and hungry – as did Berbatov. Nani was outstanding today but Anderson was my man of the match. The way he kept things ticking over in centre mid but also kept driving forward and making decent passes was phenomenal. Fergie has to let Anderson have a run in centre mid alongside Carrick as Fletcher has been shite thus far and it would be unfair on Anderson to drop him for Scholes.

    What was particularly pleasing about today was that we played so well without Scholes and Giggs.

    quality! but Park has been playing consistent well for a number of games

    anderson played brilliantly because he had space in front of him – he is exceptional on the counter when he can run. it’s when he doesn’t have the ball, and when the opposition drop back, when he is a clueless cunt.

  14. says

    captainhormone said:
    harsh but true

    yep, he’s a genius no doubt – has the Veron factor about him but the system doesn’t fit him for him to go fucking ape in a season. hwr its clear that the energy and dynamism that rooney brings to the front and middle of the park, helps him and everyone. some of their interaction was class.

    OK it was blackturd but fuck it, something to shout about and for us to build upon into the Dec and NY period.

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