Rooney: One last push needed
Wayne Rooney has urged Manchester United to get ready for one last push over the Barclays Premier League title line.
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10. Wayne Rooney
United's victory at Stoke on Sunday means they now require only seven more points to claim a record 20th championship.
With both the Red Devils and Manchester City in action on Wednesday, the end could come as quickly as next Sunday, when Roberto Mancini's men visit Tottenham.
Even if it drags on a bit longer - there must be some kind of perverse appeal in winning it at Arsenal on April 27 - the end is in sight.
"We are in a great position," Rooney said.
"But we have to make sure we move on and push ourselves over that line."
The striker is attempting to win his fifth Premier League title, although if former Paris St Germain sports advisor Michel Moulin is to be believed, it will be his last.
Moulin went on French TV on Sunday night and claimed the transfer of Rooney to PSG was a "done deal".
There was no suggestion, either from United or Rooney's representatives there was any truth behind the bold statement, which would fly in the face of Sir Alex Ferguson's previous assertion that Rooney would be at Old Trafford next season, delivered following the striker's omission from the starting line-up against Real Madrid last month.
Yet mere common sense would allow some form of conjecture.
After all, Rooney was omitted from the biggest game of United's season, and yesterday operated in central midfield at Stoke as Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez filled the striking roles.
Van Persie is clearly not going anywhere, and whilst Hernandez's future is open to debate given the number of top European clubs who would be interested in the Mexican, Ferguson also has Danny Welbeck at his disposal.
In addition, the United boss has stated he expects Shinji Kagawa to benefit from his first season in English football, and evidently, the Japan star is more suited to a central role behind a main striker than any other.
And speculation about further attacking reinforcements refuse to go away, with reports Ferguson sent his chief scout, Jim Lawlor, to check on Atletico Madrid front-man Radamel Falcao over the weekend following previous apparent interest in Kagawa's former Borussia Dortmund team-mate Robert Lewandowski.
Should either man, or any alternative, arrive at Old Trafford, some kind of sale would be certain.
And while Ferguson said last month that Rooney would be offered a new contract in the summer, there has also been a suggestion it may involve some kind of pay cut from the mega-deal agreed following Rooney's transfer request in 2010 that is due to expire in 2015.
That would test Rooney's private assertion that he is happy in the north west as, at 27, his next contract covers what are supposed to be his prime years.
Little wonder therefore that the PSG link is not a surprise, although, should he be so minded, Chelsea may also appeal to the Merseysider given the team offers the potential to play ahead of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard, in a striking position he prefers.
This is not to say Rooney's ability is on the decline, more following Ferguson's history of brutally dumping the most high-profile players if he felt there was a better alternative.
Certainly, central midfield is not a viable long-term option as, while facing Stoke is one thing, combatting Yaya Toure is quite another.
"I've played there a few times this season," he said.
"You have to think. As a centre forward you want to be as close to goal as possible to try and score.
"In midfield you have to hold yourself back at times and try and help the team keep the ball and move up the pitch."
Tom Cleverley, Phil Jones or Ryan Giggs are other midfield options for Wednesday's trip to West Ham though, leaving Ferguson once again to determine whether he has room for his one-time talisman in the forward role where he so excels.