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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
Rooney 'to handle pressure'
By Simon Austin

Norman Whiteside and Wayne Rooney
Whiteside, like Rooney, was a United prodigy
Old Trafford legend Norman Whiteside has warned Wayne Rooney of the pressure he will face at Manchester United, but has backed him to thrive on it.

Rooney, 18, scored a hat-trick on his United debut against Fenerbahce.

"He'll be under a lot of pressure. I was one of those that thrived on it and he seems to as well," said the former Northern Ireland international.

Whiteside made his debut for Manchester United in 1982 at the age of 16 and played in the 1982 World Cup aged 17.

And he says the spotlight will be on Rooney more than ever following his move to Old Trafford.

"It will be pressure 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said.

"If you go out for a beer, all of a sudden it's multiplied by 12 by the press. If you're seen walking down the road with a girl you're having an affair.

"It's just all hype. It's even worse these days than it was when I was playing."

Whiteside is the youngest FA Cup final scorer after grabbing the second goal in United's 4-0 win against Brighton in the 1983 replay.

Rooney will know Sir Alex's reputation and be frightened to overstep the mark
Norman Whiteside

He played under Sir Alex Ferguson for the final three years of his United career - before moving to Everton in 1989 - and thinks the Scot will be the ideal manager for Rooney.

"If anybody's going to keep his feet on the ground, it's Sir Alex," said Whiteside.

"I worked under him and he's the type of manager who won't let him get out of line.

"Rooney will know Sir Alex's reputation and be frightened to overstep the mark.

"Alex is definitely the right man for him. He'll keep talking to him, calling him in and making sure he's all right. He just knows how to handle players."

And Whiteside, who now works as a podiatrist (foot specialist), is sure Ferguson will rest Rooney throughout the course of his first season at Old Trafford to avoid burn-out.

"It won't surprise me if he doesn't play him at the weekend. And he will definitely rest him at stages during the season," Whiteside said.

"The other boys they have there are good strikers. Alan Smith got off to a good start at the club and I think he's a good buy.

"There are still a lot of good players at United and Sir Alex will use them."

Rooney scored a classic hat-trick against Fenerbahce - the first goal struck with his left foot, the second with his right, and the third a clever chipped free-kick.

And Whiteside said the teenager's debut was undoubtedly one of the finest in the United's history.

He's set his standards now and people are expecting great things from him
Norman Whiteside
"It's got to go down as one of the best - all the goals were spectacular," he said.

"He came in with the burden of all the money that had been paid for him and the expectations of the crowd - and he lived up to it all."

But Whiteside warned United's fans they should not expect too much.

"He's set his standards now and people are expecting great things from him.

"It's a great start but he's bound to have a dip during the season. You can't keep going on like that.

"You just hope people give him the benefit of the doubt and say we can't expect it every week."




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