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Premier League's best youngsters are English

Tactics and Analysis 5 hours ago
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Oct 2, 2012

Ferguson thrilled with RVP and Rooney

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson took heart from the developing partnership between Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney despite witnessing an early scare in their 2-1 victory at CFR Cluj.

• Cluj 1-2 Man Utd

The strike duo were making their first appearance together since Van Persie's summer transfer from Arsenal, with Rooney having a hand in both of the Dutchman's goals in Romania.

Ferguson, who was far from impressed with the nature of Pantelis Kapetanos' opener, told ITV1: "I think there are good combinations between all the players in attacking positions.

"The strength of this squad is in attacking positions. If you look at the way they kept going to the end, they're good crossers of the ball. They kept us under pressure the whole time and kept us on edge.

"I'm really pleased that the possession was really good tonight and apart from their goal I think we defended really well. David (De Gea) made a good save towards the end. Coming out here is never easy and as I said before the game, they've got a good home record.

"The second goal was fantastic. It was a great ball from Wayne. I thought he had hit it too far in front of him. But the speed to get to the ball and his deftness of touch were fantastic.

"The best quality both of them have is that they can turn a game. That is an important feature. It doesn't really matter if they have a personal combination, it is their ability to finish moves off, whether it is through (Tom) Cleverley, Nani or (Antonio) Valencia.

"We have a pair of really top players who can finish and change a game. There is always going to be an issue because everyone expects it to be a miracle combination. The strength of our team now is definitely in the forward positions.

"We have good alternatives, with Wayne, Shinji (Kagawa), Van Persie, (Danny) Welbeck and (Javier) Hernandez."

The additional piece of good news was that Jonny Evans, who was replaced by Scott Wootton in the latter stages, is likely to be available for Sunday's trip to Newcastle.

"It is a dead leg,'' said Ferguson. "He got injured on Saturday and had a recurrence of that. He has five days to recover for Sunday. Hopefully he will be okay.''

If Van Persie's first goal had a touch of fortune about it, there was no denying the quality of his second as Rooney delivered a typically pinpoint pass in from the right wing. The Holland international steered the ball into the bottom corner to register a 20th goal in 49 Champions League appearances.

And Van Persie was quick to praise Rooney for his vision: "Wayne gave me the good pass so I have to thank him. Not many players can give a pass like that. When the ball came to him I knew that he could see the pass and give it to me exactly the way I wanted.

"I think I'm on the way, I'd like to make more assists. For me, as I've said many times, it's not about goals - it's about winning. I'm on a good run but it can always be better.''

Rooney was as gracious in acknowledging his team-mate's praise as he was in commending Cluj for their never-say-die spirit. "It was obviously a nice finish by Robin,'' he said. "It was a tough game tonight, a tough pitch, so we had to make sure we were concentrating fully with our first touches.

"It's difficult in the Champions League, we know it was a silly goal to give away but thankfully we managed to get back in the game and win. It's great to get a first 90 minutes and I'm feeling good and looking forward to getting a run in the team. Hopefully that will happen.

"Maybe we should have done more with the possession but sometimes you need to take the heat out of the game which we managed to do in the end. But they put us under a lot of pressure and thankfully we hung on.

"We're going to take one game at a time and we're at home next (against Braga). Hopefully we'll get three points and be in a good position in the group.''

Cluj coach Ioan Andone was magnanimous in defeat.

"A well deserved victory to Manchester United,'' he said. "Their first goal was maybe a bit lucky and if we had gone to the break with a different score maybe things could have been different at the end. But they dominated us in the second half.''

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