Manchester United: Dimitar Berbatov Inspires Wayne Rooney Into Top Form

Jeff HarbertSenior Writer IOctober 16, 2008

Wayne Rooney has been in fantastic form recently, finding the net seven times out of his last five outings for club and country. The Manchester United striker scored in each of United’s last three fixtures against Bolton, Aalborg, and Blackburn, before bagging a brace for England against Kazakhstan last weekend and then again on Wednesday versus Belarus.

The United front man scored 18 goals last season for the Red Devils en route to clinching both the Premiership and Champions League titles. Yet the former Everton striker was often on the receiving end of criticism over his goal scoring consistency.

England coach Fabio Capello even told Rooney last season that he needed to be more selfish last season and others have pointed at his tireless work ethic for his lack of goals.

Rooney was criticized once again at the beginning of the new season after failing to find the net in United’s first seven matches. The 22-year-old even found himself in an unusual position during Bolton’s visit to Old Trafford at the end of last month. Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez took up United’s attacking responsibilities as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men sought their first home win in the league.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s controversial penalty gave United the lead, but it wasn’t until the introduction of Wayne Rooney that the three points were secured. Six minutes after replacing Carlos Tevez, Rooney was on the scoresheet for the first time in the new season.

It has only got better for Rooney since his substitute appearance against Bolton. Being dropped to the bench seemed to serve as a wake-up call for Rooney, as he went on to score two more goals with clinical finishes against Aalborg and Blackburn.

The international break may have interrupted United’s return to top form, but it did little in disrupting Rooney’s goal scoring streak. With the pressure on England to get a result at Wembley in their World Cup Qualifier, Rooney ensured the Three Lions earned all three points by grabbing a brace in the 5-1 win over Kazakhstan.

Rooney’s name was on the score sheet once again four days later as England overcame Belarus 3-1, courtesy of a second half brace by the man of the moment.

If there is anything that has been key to Rooney’s recent form for club and country, it is the arrival of Dimitar Berbatov at Old Trafford. The Bulgarian forward signed for United on the last day of the transfer window and has since formed a promising partnership with Rooney, with the two combining for one third of United’s goals this season as they look to haul United back up the table.  

In fact, England stand-in captain Rio Ferdinand believes Berbatov is responsible for Rooney’s hot streak in front of goal.     

"Wayne is confident, playing well, and being honest, one of the reasons I was happy that Berbatov signed for United was that I knew it would inspire other players in the team to step their game up another level," said Ferdinand.

"It's not just the forwards but the other players as well. When a new player comes in that's what happens.

"Everyone wants to impress that player and show them why they are playing for Manchester United. I think 'Wazza' has taken that on board and gone from strength to strength.

"I think they can be a great pairing. Berbatov's arrival will help him become a better player individually and go to another level.”

As Wayne Rooney returns to Carrington to link up with the rest of the United squad, he will be determined to continue his goal scoring run.

"Goals are going in for me and I'm really pleased. I work every day on my finishing and it's going well," Rooney said. "You can always improve, there are weaknesses there I can improve on. I've worked a lot on my finishing and it's starting to pay off on the pitch now which I'm happy about.

"I believe I'm going to score in any game anyway. I'm a confident person and I'm delighted they are going in at the moment. Hopefully I can keep it going."

Sir Alex Ferguson probably only had one thing in mind when he splashed over 30 million pounds for Berbatov and that was the amount of goals the Bulgarian would provide for his side. Little did Ferguson, or anyone for that matter, know that the former Tottenham striker would be key to Wayne Rooney’s return to top goal scoring form.

Rooney will hope to extend his goal scoring streak this weekend as he and the rest of his United teammates look to continue their charge up the standings as they take on West Brom at Old Trafford on Saturday.