Rooney had reportedly become disillusioned with the calibre of acquisition made by the debt-ridden Manchester club; he purportedly felt that his chances of winning trophies would be greater elsewhere. Now, just five weeks later, Manchester United seem poised to reclaim their habitual position atop the Premier League table; Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea’s downturn in form has paved the way for Sir. Alex Ferguson’s revitalised charges. With a match-fit Rooney ready to spearhead their attack, it would take a brave punter to bet against the newly-installed bookmaker’s favourites.
“Obviously,” said Rooney, “it is a bit of a relief for me to score. Hopefully I can build on this now.” His goal, only the second of an injury-ravished season for the England talisman, could well have greater implications than securing Manchester United’s position as Group winners. “Hopefully,” continued the 25 year-old striker, “I can go on a goalscoring run now but really I am just delighted to be back playing again.” Although they do remain undefeated, Manchester United’s 50% Premier League win rate is far from ideal. They have tasted victory just once in seven away league fixtures, a statistic that Ferguson will be hope to quickly improve upon over the coming weeks. A rejuvenated Rooney will be integral in the legendary Scot’s plans. With Dimitar Berbatov’s own rejuvenation showing signs of waning and Javier Hernandez, while scoring goals, still lacking the experience that only age can bring, Rooney can bring the element of ‘unplayability’ back to the United frontline, helping them to convert the all too prevalent draws into all too rare victories.
In other news, Steve Bruce has revealed that his first-choice central defensive partnership of Titus Bramble and Michael Turner will be disbanded until January – both have suffered knee injuries. Sunderland were already facing up to a prolonged period of games without the commanding Bramble when Bruce publicised a further injury to Turner, who “whacked his knee against the post on Monday and damaged knee ligaments.”
Both Bramble and Turner have been outstanding for the Northern side in recent weeks; they were impenetrable as the Black Cats routed Chelsea. With a reputation for being somewhat of a liability and a history that included a stint at rivals Newcastle, it was always going to be difficult for Bramble to endear himself to the Sunderland faithful. That he has already done so, just a third of the way through his debut season, is a testament to the quality of his performances. Anton Ferdinand and Paulo da Silva will probably get the nod to replace the injured duo; Steve Bruce can only hope that they can win over the doubters as quickly as Bramble did.