Wayne Rooney backed to end goal drought by Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson
A mere 144 days ago, Wayne Rooney was about to record his 19th goal in 14 games for Manchester United, sustaining a remarkable run of form which appeared destined to flow like a torrent through to the World Cup final, enabling Sir Alex Ferguson’s team to sweep all before them to a Premier League and Champions League double on the way.
Then came the Sliding Doors moment, the split-second that changed everything and hauled Rooney back from the brink of immortality. Had he allowed the covering Ryan Giggs to check the run of Mario Gomez deep into stoppage time against Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena, Rooney would not have mistimed his challenge on the German forward and he would have escaped the damage to his right ankle sustained after his attempted intervention.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet Rooney made the tackle, rolled his ankle, tweaked the tendons and he has not scored, or resembled his true self on a football pitch, since.
Rather than when will he stop scoring, the question now revolves around when Rooney will emerge from what has developed into the longest goalless run of his career.
As he prepares to face Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday, revised Opta figures show that Rooney’s current goal drought stands at 1,081 minutes — 79 minutes longer than his barren run during the 2005-06 campaign. Whichever way the figures are spun, they make grim reading for Rooney, United, England — 13 games, 1,081 minutes, 18 hours and one minute. Nothing since March 30.
Famously protective of his players, Ferguson will never hang one of his own out to dry by condemning their failings, but while the United manager insists that Rooney will come good once again, he concedes that the 24 year-old is as frustrated as any forward by his lengthening fruitless streak.
Ferguson said: “I say it time and time again; strikers live by their goals. When they are not scoring, they think it is never going to come. Then, when they [goals] come, they think they are never going to finish. That is normal with any forward.
“They are quite straightforward people and Wayne is no different from any other kind of striker. They want to score and, when they are not scoring, they think it is never going to happen.
“But Wayne is one of the best strikers in the world. He is still young, still progressing and still learning.”