MANCHESTER, England, March 15, 2010 (AFP) - Wayne Rooney insists helping Manchester United enjoy a successful end to the campaign is more important than emulating Cristiano Ronaldo's tally of 42 goals in a season.
Rooney was asked to fill the void left by the Portuguese forward when Ronaldo made an 80 million pounds move to Real Madrid last year.
And the England striker has done just that, with an incredible burst of goals that have kept United in contention in the Premier League and the Champions League.
|Wayne Rooney (L) vies with Fulham's Irish defender Stephen Kelly during the English Premier League football match at Old Trafford in Manchester on March 14, 2010. AFP PHOTO|
The former Everton striker has scored 24 goals in his last 22 matches and his two goals in Sunday's 3-0 win over Fulham at Old Trafford took his tally to 32 for the season.
Yet Rooney is adamant that he is not worried about beating Ronaldo's total of 42 goals two seasons ago as he concentrates on keeping United top of the Premier League.
He said: "Being honest it wouldn't mean a lot to me and it's not something I’ve looked at.
"It's nice to score goals and I want to score goals in every game but what Cristiano achieved is unbelievable.
"But I'm a different person and a different player so I'm not comparing myself to him."
United moved two points clear at the top of the table with the victory over Fulham and, with Chelsea and Arsenal both winning on Saturday, Rooney felt that it was a crucial three points.
He added: "We knew it was a big game for us and we had to win. We're confident and playing well, we have had a job to do and we've done that."
Ferguson feels that Rooney has a genuine chance of reaching the 42-goal mark but he thinks that keeping his defensive unit together is key to his hopes of a record fourth straight title.
Rio Ferdinand's return from a back problem alongside Nemanja Vidic has coincided with United picking up three straight wins and three consecutive clean sheets.
Ferguson said: "I keep praying I can keep that back four together, with the experience they've got and Edwin van der Sar's experience will give us a massive chance.
"The key for us will be keeping the back four together."
On Rooney, Ferguson added: "I said a while ago it's impossible for a player to get 42 in the present day but he's on 32, what can I say?
"It's a challenge for him, he is capable of scoring in the next eight league games and possibly five European games so he's got 13 games possibly and you never know.
"I won't put it beyond him but I'm just happy he got over the 30 mark and we're enjoying his form at the moment."
Rooney scored United's opening two goals against the Cottagers before Dimitar Berbatov scored his tenth Premier League goal of the season to complete the victory.
Berbatov thinks that Rooney is currently the best in the world and thinks he can get at least 40 goals.
He said: "I think Wayne can certainly get over 40 goals. He still has plenty of games left so I wish him luck and we will all help him get over the 40 mark.
"I think at the moment he is the best. And he is still so young so he has plenty of chances to get even greater.
"Like I've told him many times just stay healthy and you can achieve everything."
Fulham have a doubt over defender Brede Hangeland going into Thursday's Europa League last 16 second leg with Juventus.
Roy Hodgson's side trail 3-1 from the first leg in Turin and Hangeland will be assessed on Monday after coming off with a chest injury at Old Trafford.
He said: "We will have to assess it. He has a spasm at the moment, which is caused by the blow to the chest.
"It's difficult to assess exactly what that blow to the chest is. We hope that it is not a major injury. He is a key figure in our team.
"He is lying in the dressing room at the moment having treatment and I guess the next step will be, when we get back to London on Monday, is to have the injury further assessed and to get a clearer picture of what happened."