Man United happy to spread scoring
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson insists Manchester United is not over-reliant on striker Robin van Persie.
The Dutch sharpshooter has enjoyed a stellar start to his United career and took his goal tally to 11 in 14 games when he began the Red Devils' latest comeback in Braga on Wednesday.
Yet Van Persie's contribution, after he had started on the bench, raised question marks over United's ability to perform without him.
"I don't think it's a problem relying on Robin," he said. "Last year, we lost (the title) on goal difference. I don't expect us to lose on goal difference again."
Ferguson's team has won every game in which the 29-year-old has scored on its rise to the Premier League summit and qualification for the Champions League knockout stages with two games to spare.
There have been plenty of top strikers who have failed to match their billing following much-hyped arrivals at Old Trafford.
Not van Persie, though. Indeed, his strike rate is better than that of fellow countryman Ruud van Nistelrooy, who took 19 games to reach the same figure following his transfer from PSV Eindhoven in 2002.
The comparison between the pair is an obvious one to make, but Ferguson dismisses it.
"Robin is a very different player to van Nistelrooy," said Ferguson. "Ruud was a penalty box player. Robin has a different understanding of the game. I never thought we'd get him. There was always the feeling that Arsenal would find a way to get him to stay. But once he made his mind to leave we firmed up our interest because he is one of the best in the business."
"Fifteen goalscorers is very healthy and satisfying," said Ferguson. "It is getting ridiculous though. Evra has virtually doubled his tally for his career. We will take them from anyone. I don't care who gets them."
Wayne Rooney now has three to his name after atoning for his penalty failure against Arsenal by scoring from the spot in Braga.
Rooney's miss was United's fourth this season, a chronic state of affairs that led Ferguson to half-jokingly state he would take the next one prior to the Braga encounter.
It was not the first time Rooney had been unable to convert from the spot. He also missed against Chelsea last season.
However, at a time when he is being overshadowed somewhat by Van Persie, Ferguson is anxious to praise the England marksman.
"Wayne has to accept he must have a better strike-rate at penalties," said the manager. "He is capable of it. The one thing about Rooney is it doesn't matter if it's the World Cup final or the first round of the cup against an amateur team, he will want to score. And if he misses it, he doesn't let it affect him."
Ferguson has predicted both Rooney and Javier Hernandez will eventually reach the 20 mark this season, though van Persie seems certain to sail past that figure.