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Koke to join Chelsea, Podolski eyes escape

Transfer Talk
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By ESPN Staff

Rooney: "We have repaired the damage"

Wayne Rooney is confident Manchester United have repaired the damage caused by their sluggish start to the season.

United's one-sided 2-0 win at Blackburn has propelled the Red Devils back towards the Champions League spots after a difficult opening to the campaign during which an opening-day draw with crisis club Newcastle and defeat at Liverpool left them languishing near the foot of the table.

However, a draw at Chelsea halted the downward spiral, since when four successive wins in three different competitions have Sir Alex Ferguson's men flying again as they head into the international break.

Rooney has prospered most, plundering a goal in United's last three games, including an outstanding effort at Ewood Park to wreck any hope Paul Ince's side had of snatching a point.

''This was a really good result for us and I think we have repaired the damage now,'' said the England striker.

''That is four of our hardest games of the season out of the way and we are still in a decent position in the league. Hopefully we can go on a good run now and start climbing the table.''

While Ferguson will probably lament the two-week break caused by the next round of World Cup qualifiers, he would also admit Rooney's experiences with England have helped trigger a rise in confidence.

Certainly the 22-year-old looks a different player to the one that went into battle against Andorra and Croatia, where he scored and was instrumental in England leaving Zagreb with a 4-1 win that leaves them in pole position to reach South Africa in 2010.

Rooney might have taken a little time to take that form into his displays for United but after being introduced as substitute against Bolton last week, there has been no stopping the former Everton youngster, of whom so much has been expected from such an early age.

''I just want to help the team really but of course, I am pleased to be back scoring goals,'' he said.

''I tend to score in spurts. I have been like that throughout my career. Hopefully I can go on like that.''

Watching England coach Fabio Capello must have been delighted with Rooney's performance and his post-match assurances that fears over his ankle injury, expressed by Ferguson on Friday following his substitution in Aalborg on Tuesday, will not threaten his presence against Kazakhstan on Saturday or Belarus the following week.

''The ankle is okay,'' he stressed.

''It's been a bit weak over the last couple of weeks and I have not trained as much as I would have liked.

''But the situation in Denmark got misread a little bit. I came off when the game was almost over and it is not a problem.''

With Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves and Paul Scholes - who is retired anyway - on the injured list, Capello must have cast an admiring glance at the performance of Anderson in central midfield.

The Brazilian, ably assisted by Darren Fletcher, ensured United controlled the centre of the field and once a tough opening 15 minutes were out of the way, were never in serious danger of maintaining a woeful recent record of just one win in six visits to Blackburn.

There are difficult away games still to come, including Arsenal and Manchester City and a resurgent Aston Villa - where United do have a phenomenal record - before the end of November.

But suddenly, the Old Trafford outfit are a force to be reckoned with again. And while it may be a while before a true picture of their standing emerges, partly due to an amazing fixture schedule but also because one home game with Fulham has already been postponed and another, against Wigan in December, will be put back as well due to commitments elsewhere thanks to their Champions League final success, if anyone is going to win the title, United will be the team to beat.

And, as a United veteran of six years standing, Ince can testify they do not need the kind of assistance they got in the first-half when referee Steve Bennett failed to spot a foul on keeper Jamie Brown by Nemanja Vidic that allowed Wes Brown to nod the opener into an empty net.

''I am not saying it affected the result but it was a diabolical decision,'' said the Blackburn boss.

''They tell you the referees are much fitter and get in positions to make decisions quicker but he did not see their player put an elbow in my keeper's throat. He should not be a referee.''

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