Ferguson: Rooney is like Pele
Sir Alex Ferguson has compared Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney to the legendary Brazilian Pele as he looks to continue his fine recent form against Benfica.
Rooney has often been hailed as ''the white Pele'' by fans in the Stretford End at Old Trafford and, in responding to an observation from Benfica coach Jorge Jesus that Rooney is ''more Brazilian or Argentinian'' than English, Ferguson made his own comparison.
''Look at Pele,'' Ferguson added. ''He was a very aggressive attacker as well who could look after himself. So can Rooney. There are similarities that way in strength, speed and determination. But he is white, completely white.''
In fact, Ferguson thinks of Rooney as the very best of British, boasting the same desire, work ethic and talent as United legends of old.
''Wayne is a typical British player,'' Ferguson added. ''But there have been British players who have great qualities that made them great players - (Paul) Gascoigne, George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law.
''The similarities are that the boy has great courage. He wants to play all the time. He has incredible stamina. These are added extras to the talent he has.''
Ferguson is also backing Rooney and strike partner Javier Hernandez to each hit the 25-goal mark this season.
The pair have contributed 10 between them in Manchester United's stellar start to the season, with Rooney currently topping the Premier League scoring charts with eight.
''Two years ago Wayne's target was to go over 30 and he reached it very quickly,'' Ferguson said. ''If he gets to that target again I will be absolutely delighted because with Javier's ability to score we could have two goalscorers well above 25.''
Having left Rio Ferdinand at home as a precaution and with Nemanja Vidic yet to start training after suffering a calf injury in the opening weekend win at West Brom, Ferguson needs to pay careful attention to his line-up ahead of a packed fixture list that includes Sunday's home showdown with Chelsea.
Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-sung and last season's joint Golden Boot winner Dimitar Berbatov will all hope to start their first game of the season.