Fergie surprised as Rooney brace dethrones City

MAN UNITED (2) vs WEST BROM (0)

MANCHESTER UNITED manager Sir Alex Ferguson insists he is nonplussed about returning to the summit of the Premier League for the first time in five months, after Wayne Rooney’s brace dethroned bitter rivals Manchester City.

Rooney touched in forward partner Javier Hernandez’s shot to open the scoring and rounded off victory over 10-man West Brom from the penalty spot, as United capitalised on City’s shock defeat at Swansea.

Ferguson admitted his surprise at moving a point ahead of the long-time leaders for the first time since 15 October but preferred to focus on a return to form following Thursday’s defeat to Athletic Bilbao.

“I’m happy to be there because only a few weeks ago we were five points, and at one time seven points, behind and now we’re a point ahead,” he said.

“So we’ve turned around eight points and it’s a credit to the players and also to the resilience of our squad because we’ve had a lot of injuries. I don’t care about being top of the league just now. More important was our own performance.”

Rooney’s strikes took his tally for the season to 26, but Ferguson has challenged the England striker to reach 40, a feat that would require him to net 14 in the remaining 11 games.

“If Wayne gets to 40 goals I will be absolutely delighted because we will be in business then,” he added.

While defeat bumped West Brom down to 14th, albeit a healthy 13 points clear of the relegation zone, victory catapulted United back to the top as the season approaches its defining stage.

The champions put a laboured start behind them in the 35th minute when Hernandez cut in from the right and drilled goalwards, where Rooney diverted the ball past an already committed Ben Foster.

West Brom had a penalty appeal rejected and then saw Jonas Olsson earn a second yellow card before Rooney capped the win in the 71st minute, converting a penalty for Keith Andrews’ foul on Ashley Young.