Rooney is still learning: Ferguson

MANCHESTER: With Cristiano Ronaldo moving to Real Madrid for a world record £80million and Carlos Tevez controversially joining Manchester City, Rooney is the man most United fans are looking towards as the player who will make their team tick.

It certainly seemed that way on Saturday as, back in his favoured position just behind a central striker, Rooney scored one and created another in the first game of the Red Devils' Far East tour.

Rooney has already claimed the role is where he will be most effective.

However, Ferguson is determined not to place too much pressure on the 23-year-old's shoulders as United begin the post-Ronaldo era.

"There will be an expectation about Wayne Rooney this season purely because he is English," Ferguson told Press Association Sport.

"Without question he is the main striker that England's hopes will be pinned on at the World Cup, so that is where the expectation is all coming from.

"But I would like to see the boy develop his game in a lot of departments.

"He is 23 now. You will get the maturity when he gets to 25. Then there will be a more consistent nature to his game."

Ferguson's determination that Rooney will improve seems partly to be a natural inclination to shield the former Everton star from the focus that will inevitably shine upon him, both at Old Trafford and, next summer, in South Africa.

Yet there is also a substantial element of truth in the United manager's words.

Without doubt, last season was Rooney's most consistent, particularly towards the latter end of another title-winning campaign when at times he took the responsibility of match-winner away from Ronaldo.

Yet, in the middle there was a fallow period, the kind of quiet patch Ferguson feels is typical in young players but becomes more of a rarity as they get older.

"A lot of players go on little runs of scoring three or four in a row, then they have a couple of weeks off, come back and score five in a row," he said.

"Wayne has periods like that. He has a little bit to do to get rid of it. That is where the maturity side has to come into it.

"He has the hunger and the natural ability to do a lot of these things. All he has to do is show the maturity to get there."