Rooney's Day Out

AP

Wayne Rooney is certainly a player who benefits from support and he combined brilliantly with Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Ryan Giggs in a four-pronged attack that might easily have inflicted more misery on Villa, writes Stuart James.

It's just like watching Brazil is a tongue-in-cheek chant that often reverberates around football stadiums to much amusement, but there would be no need for Manchester United fans to suppress smiles when singing the words. No one was laughing when Wayne Rooney, emboldened by a mesmerising United performance that included everything from audacious backheels to outrageous nutmegs, drew comparisons with football's favourite country later.

Growing up, I used to love watching Brazil and I think the football we play is similar to the way Brazil play, said the England international. It's an honour to play in this team and I love it. Rooney is not prone to hyperbole and there was no reason to suspect he was losing his senses in the wake of a fine display that will be greeted with a sense of foreboding in Rome.

So impressed was Martin O'Neill that the Aston Villa manager suggested his younger players watch a DVD of the thrashing to learn from Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. Neither would look out of place in a Brazil shirt and, on this evidence, the same can be said for a number of Sir Alex Ferguson's players.

Ronaldo has gone on to be exceptional, said O'Neill who, ominously for Roma, claimed that United are a better side than last season. His goals are obviously giving him great confidence. He's going on to the field with much more confidence and so is Rooney. I genuinely believe Rooney is one of those players who wouldn't worry � need to worry � about scoring for four or five weeks. He's got the capabilities, he's got the game (and) it's only a matter of time.

Rooney admitted as much afterwards although the celebration that greeted his first goal, when he sashayed around Scott Carson following Ronaldo's fortuitous backheel, carried more than a vestige of relief. It was the 22-year-old's first goal at Old Trafford since October and he had no intention of waiting another five months for the next. Ronaldo's reverse pass nutmegged Nigel Reo-Coker and Rooney, deceiving Carson, dragged a low shot inside the Villa goalkeeper's near post.

Ronaldo's brilliant improvised goal, when he flicked the ball through Martin Laursen's legs after hooking one foot behind the other, had Ferguson drooling. It was only when I saw the replay I realised what he had done. The execution was absolutely brilliant, so full marks to him, said United's manager. But there was no doubt that Rooney's contribution provided the greatest fillip.

He is certainly a player who benefits from support, something that was apparent during England's midweek display in Paris, when the forward cut an isolated figure. The smile was back on his face here, however, as he combined with Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Ryan Giggs in a four-pronged attack that might easily have inflicted more misery on Villa. Rooney and Tevez, who headed home his 16th goal of the season, were profligate at times.

The Villa manager could, with some justification, cite the opportunity Shaun Maloney squandered three minutes before Rooney's first as a turning point, but so dominant were United that it is difficult to believe a goal then would have done anything other than rouse Ferguson's players. They were terrific, enthused O'Neill. They are playing fantastically and have great confidence within themselves. In terms of the Premiership, that was real great stuff. Just like watching Brazil, in fact.