Manchester United manager David Moyes believes star striker Wayne Rooney is already a legend at the club.
Rooney, who has signed a five-and-a-half year contract to stay at Old Trafford until 2019, is likely to end his career as United’s record goalscorer. And the Englishman, who is chasing down Sir Bobby Charlton’s total of 249 goals, moved into third place in the standings with a brace at West Ham on Saturday that took him to 212.
Moyes believes Rooney will be pivotal in Tuesday’s Manchester derby, when United will be without the injured Robin van Persie, who scored a hat-trick against Olympiakos last week.
“If you are the third top scorer of a club like Manchester United you already are a legend," he said. "I think it gives him a chance to go on and he has a real good chance... as long as he doesn't pick up any serious injuries he has a real good chance of breaking Denis Law's and Sir Bobby Charlton's [records] and that would be some feat.
“Anyone who watched the game against Olympiakos will tell you that you do need those special players who can make the difference. Wayne was one on Saturday and Robin was the one against Olympiakos.”
Rooney scored from 57 yards at Upton Park but Moyes took most pleasure from the forward’s energetic approach.
He added: “Wayne's performance on Saturday was very good. He led the team well, he showed what he is about. He has a big energy back again.
“Everyone who knew Wayne Rooney from old in his early days would say one of the biggest things was that he had big energy, a big heart and his effort. And if you get Wayne playing like that well the rest of his football takes care of itself.”
Moyes hit back at his City counterpart Manuel Pellegrini, who said last month that “there is just one club in Manchester and it is ours.”
The Scot replied: “Manchester United had lots and lots of seasons of domination and I don't think if I was a manager I would have turned round and necessarily said that we were the only club in Manchester because football does change, it goes in cycles.
“Hopefully our period won't take as long to come out of, we will be coming out of it quickly. Plans are afoot and try and make a real good go of it next season. We are not in the position we want to be just now but we will do everything we possibly can to do it next year.”