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Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Friday, 24 September 2010 11:29 UK

Rooney feeling strain - Ferguson

Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson (right) and striker Wayne Rooney
Rooney (left) scored an impressive 34 goals last season

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says Wayne Rooney is feeling the strain of the scrutiny he is under.

Rooney, 24, hit the headlines because of recent allegations of his private life and has scored one goal in four games for United so far this season.

"I don't believe he has a confidence problem," Ferguson told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.

"But he is starting to realise finally, without any question, what kind of focus is on him as a human being."

Rooney scored 34 goals last season but looked a shadow of himself during a dismal World Cup campaign with England in South Africa.

He has also struggled for form on the domestic front with the Old Trafford club and was left out of the 3-3 draw at former club Everton in the wake of the allegations about his private life.

He [Rooney] would like to keep playing with freedom, but the siege of the tabloids can wear out anyone

Sir Alex Ferguson

"He is realising what it means to be at the centre of media attention for non-football-related questions," added Ferguson.

"I don't think the boy can turn a corner at the moment without a camera on him. He can't move without the paparazzi being on him and, for a young person, that is not what you want.

"You want to play and enjoy your football without that attention on you, because that can be quite exhausting.

"He would like to keep playing with freedom, but the siege of the tabloids can wear out anyone."

Manchester United are currently four points behind leaders and champions Chelsea, who have a 100% record after five games, in the Premier League but Ferguson insists that the Londoners have been fortunate in terms of their fixtures.

"West Brom, Wigan, Stoke, West Ham and Blackpool. It feels as though Chelsea chose the calendar. Incredible," said the Scot.

Its Chicharito time

"They ended last season scoring a lot of goals against weaker teams as well.

"But they continue to win like champions, and whoever wants to win the Premier League will have to consider Chelsea."

He added: "We (United) have started quietly just like Arsenal. But us and the Gunners will battle with Chelsea until the end.

"It's too early to make any predictions but we cannot forget the progress done by Tottenham.

"[Gerard] Houllier at Aston Villa needs time. The disappointment is Everton. I considered them favourites but they have just two points.

"Manchester City didn't have the best of starts but with the squad (Roberto) Mancini has, they will be contenders.

"I saw them beat Liverpool 3-0, with power and quality. Mancini has changed half of the squad, it's difficult to find rhythm yet. When they get continuity they will be a threat to everyone."

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see also
Hargreaves training with Man Utd
24 Sep 10 |  Man Utd
Rooney left out of Man Utd squad
11 Sep 10 |  Premier League
Capello praises display by Rooney
07 Sep 10 |  Football

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