Wayne Rooney form crucial, says Man Utd boss Ferguson

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson says Wayne Rooney's form in the end of season run-in is vital to his side's hopes of silverware.

Rooney scored United's winner in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Chelsea on Wednesday.

"He's now been more regular with his goalscoring which, in the last part of the season, is going to be important to us," Ferguson said.

"That was important [at Chelsea]. We were pleased with that performance."

Rooney side-footed in to finish off a scything move to give the Red Devils the advantage ahead of the second leg on 12 April, with the Old Trafford club still in the hunt for the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup Treble.

Ferguson got his selection and tactics spot on, revolving around the return of Ferdinand in defence, a rejuvenated Carrick in midfield and the tireless Rooney up front

Phil McNulty

His goal came after a hat-trick in the top-flight win at West Ham after which he was given a two-match ban for swearing into a television camera during his celebration following his third goal.

Rooney will find out on Thursday whether his appeal against the length of the ban has been successful.

"Work-rate, desire, he was top quality [against Chelsea]," Ferguson added. "He took a great lot of abuse and late tackles on him, but he was excellent."

United escaped giving away a late penalty for a Patrice Evra challenge on Chelsea midfielder Ramires but Ferguson had little sympathy for the Blues.

"Yeah, someone said it could have been a penalty," the United boss commented. "It was the first penalty decision we've got here in seven years, so I think we're due one.

"But I don't feel guilty about that at all. It was a 50-50 from where I was and I don't know what the contact situation was."

It's [the lead] an advantage, but the biggest advantage is Old Trafford. It'll be an electric atmosphere

Sir Alex Ferguson Man Utd manager

Ferguson is hoping the Old Trafford faithful will spur his side on in the return leg but warned his side, who play Fulham at home in the Premier League on Saturday, against complacency.

"We have to be very careful and have to give a top performance [in the second leg], but the atmosphere will help us," he stated.

"I hope we get through Saturday's game without any further injuries. Anderson will be back against Fulham. It'll be a tight game at Old Trafford."

United had to move Antonio Valencia from right midfield to right-back at Stamford Bridge after Rafael Da Silva was stretchered off on 51 minutes and replaced by Nani.

"They [Chelsea] overloaded in midfield, and you have to be clever how you handle that," Ferguson reflected.

"Park Ji-sung was fantastic in there and did a great job. We did well considering we had to take Rafael off, with Valencia going to right-back.

"It's [the lead] an advantage, but the biggest advantage is Old Trafford. It'll be an electric atmosphere."