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As I’ve repeatedly said all season, Wayne Rooney is our most important player. Last weekend he showed exactly why he holds that title. Not just because of the goals he scored, which obviously helped us on our way, but because of the hard work he puts in for every minute he’s on the pitch. When he plays well, more often than not, our team plays well. He has now scored more derby day goals for United than any other player, which is quite an achievement for someone who is only 27-years-old.

Rooney may be centre of attention again this weekend as we face Sunderland, the team whose fans celebrated City’s title win, despite losing 1-0 on the last day of the season. Like Stoke, these fans are more concerned with the opposition than they ever will be their own team. They’ve come to Old Trafford and sung “You’ll Never Walk Alone” before now, so it should come as no surprise that they were happy to Poznan in celebration for City. Had Sunderland been playing City on the last day of the season and we won the league, only to see them celebrate, I’d have felt the same way. Giving out stick is part of football and I enjoy a lot of what goes on back and forth between fans, particularly rivals, but that small time nonsense that Sunderland performed in May is embarrassing.

Rooney has voiced his unhappiness with their fans’ behaviour on a number of occasions and even admitted that when the fixtures came out he looked for the Sunderland game. In the midst of a ridiculous discussion about whether players should be able to celebrate goals or not, for fear of winding up the opposition, we should be under no doubt that if Rooney scores on Saturday he will be heading straight to the away support.

Following the high of last weekend’s win, I really hope we can start to build on that performance. We played so well at a ground that hasn’t seen the home team lose for two years and that’s what we should be taking in to today’s game. Sunderland have won just one game away from home this season and have lost five of their last eight games. It’s a good time to be playing them but as this season has shown, the form of either side seems to mean little to what goes on with us on the pitch.
Ashley Young has started to play well the past few games, thank goodness, so it would be nice to see him continue with that. His performances haven’t been good enough since he first signed for us but he had a great game against City and was denied a goal to go along with his assist. Antonio Valencia was the surprise return and he had one of his better games in a while, but he still has a long way to go if he’s to replicate last season’s form.

We’re six points clear but we could go in to our game, hopefully, with City having dropped points away to Newcastle. I’ll be more than happy to keep the six point gap but let’s hope that last minute winner has got City down in the dumps.

Join bwin and get a free £20 bet for Man Utd vs Sunderland

bwin bets – £5 wins a total of…
Ashley Young to score any time – £12.50
Rooney to score first – £20
Sunderland to score first – £23.75
Van Persie to score first and United win 3-1 – £105