Fergie hints at Rooney extension
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he hopes striker Wayne Rooney will extend his contract at Old Trafford.
United have had to fend off rumours the 27-year-old was heading for the exit door after he was started on the bench in the club’s Champions League loss to Real Madrid on Tuesday.
And Ferguson has made it clear Rooney remains an important figure in his future plans, hoping the England international will renew his contract with the club.
"There's no issue with his contract, when it has to be renegotiated it will be," Ferguson said. "We don't want players to leave. He'll definitely be here next season, there's no doubt about that."
Ferguson denies Rooney is reaching the twilight of his career, with many critics suggesting the striker's omission shows similar signs experienced by Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham as their time at Old Trafford came to an end.
"Wayne is coming to his mature years, like we saw with Cristiano," Ferguson said. "He got me 32 goals last year and he’s had a lot of issues this year in terms of illness, injuries and he’s not had a long run of games, but he’s still got me 14 goals.
"That’s from probably two-thirds of the appearances of last year. He’ll get 20 goals, no doubt about that. I’ve said before if he gets over 20, Chicharito over 20 and Van Persie’s haul now, we’re talking over 60 goals. That’s put us right in the ballpark, no doubt about that. But it’s not all about one person."
Ferguson has been given a selection headache ahead of United's FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea on Sunday, with Rooney and Shinji Kagawa vying for the same midfield role.
"I think Wayne can play through the middle. But he’s developed his game a lot over the last few years," Ferguson said. "He played last week for 20 minutes, made two goals and scored one.
"Wayne and Shinji can play together. There’s no doubt about that. At Newcastle we played a diamond system and that’s a consideration. We’ve played Wazza centre midfield and Shinji towards the right. They did really well in that game.
"Good footballers can play together. I think the preferred position for Shinji is off the frontman in a central position and that’s the same for Wazza. So we maybe have to alternate them.
"I just need to make sure I pick the right team, bearing in mind who our opponents are. I have an issue in that Shinji scored a hat-trick last week and did not play on Tuesday and he and Wazza are best playing in that role behind the main striker. And Chicharito’s record against Chelsea is unbelievable. I have these issues."
Chelsea are bidding to win their fifth FA Cup in seven years and although rivals Manchester City had a relatively easy passage into the semi-finals with a 5-0 win over Barnsley on Saturday, Ferguson insists despatching of Premier League opponents is a welcomed challenge.
"It’s a quarter-final with the opportunity to get to a semi-final and hopefully a final," he said. "I think if you are looking at opponents in the Cup you will have to regard it as the hardest one.
"In the FA Cup over the past few seasons we keep getting Premier League clubs anyway. The year we won the Treble we had top-flight clubs right the way through. I've not got an easy game, it’s a Cup tie and their record has been pretty good, the best in the country over the past decade. So we have a job to do."