ALEX FERGUSON has challenged Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo to fire Manchester United to an unprecedented Quadruple.
The Old Trafford chief is setting his sights on four major trophies this season to mark out his team as the very best in the world.
Fergie has raised the bar at United with a series of demands:
- Another title to match Liverpool’s record 18.
- Be the first club to win back-to-back Champions Leagues.
- Win the European Super Cup and World Club Championship.
Fergie believes he can achieve all these by turning Rooney back into an out-and-out striker.
Rooney scored 18 times last season but his goal tally was stunted by his unselfish work playing in various positions.
Plus, the England star was overshadowed by Ronaldo’s astonishing 42-goal haul.
Fergie knows it is unlikely Ronaldo can repeat that — so instead will look to Rooney to increase his goal tally.
He said: “We have to be fairer to Rooney this season. He is such a willing performer that you are tempted to listen to him at times.
“He says he can play centre-half or centre midfield or in goal. This is the individual you are dealing with.
“There is a great saying from the old days ‘He can play anywhere’. Rooney thinks he can.”
Fergie still believes Ronaldo, who spent most of the summer trying to flee Old Trafford for Real Madrid, can get even better.
The United boss said: “At the start of last season, I was asked if Ronaldo could score more than 25 goals and I replied I was looking for improvement.
“Improvement can come in different ways for Ronaldo this season. Forty-two goals is a target — it is still possible for him to achieve that given the talent of the boy and his goal-scoring ability. But you have to say it’s a big target.
“Where you will see the improvement is in his authority and decision-making, which improves with experience.
“Experience gives you a lot of things — timing especially.”
Winger Ronaldo’s rehabilitation from an ankle operation is ahead of schedule with him due back for the first game of October away to Blackburn.
He has also made peace with his team-mates who feared they were losing their top scorer from last season to Real.
Ferguson said: “Cristiano has been doing excellently.
“He is well ahead of schedule. The specialist was surprised the condition he was in.
“The next three weeks he will have rehab and then the next part will be endurance work and serious running before he goes into the football side with us.
“There has been no problem, his progress has been great. He has never missed a session morning or afternoon. We are pencilling him in for the beginning of October.”
That will see Ronaldo miss the European Super Cup at the end of this month but he will be back for the World Club Championship in December.
United are the only British team to win the world title when they beat South American champions Palmeiras back in 1999 although they lost the Super Cup to Lazio the same year.
Fergie said: “We are absolutely looking forward to those two cups and we want to win them.
“We won the World Club Championship in 1999 but it seems to have been passed over.
“But we are the only British team to have won it. Liverpool tried five times. I cannot understand why we did not get the praise or publicity we deserved.
“To win a World Championship is an achievement.”
United’s first focus will be the start of their title defence at home to Newcastle tomorrow.
Ferguson expects the usual suspects to be trying to wrestle the title away from Old Trafford.
He said: “Chelsea have this experience but Arsenal had a great run last season until they got injuries. Liverpool have signed Keane and Dossena and you suspect they will challenge.” -TheSun