Date: 19th December 2005 at 9:52am
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David O’Leary believes Manchester United can still have a say in the Premiership title race if Wayne Rooney continues his stunning form over the second half of the season.

Rooney produced another dazzling performance for the Red Devils and scored his 10th goal of the season against an inept Aston Villa on Saturday.

O’Leary: ‘United are a class act and I think Rooney is getting better and better. It’s an absolute pleasure to watch him when you are not involved in any game he is playing in.

‘I have never known a lad at such a young age be like him. If he plays well, Manchester United play really well. You also look and think if he’s not in the England side then they are not as good.

‘It was a similar scenario over the years with Arsenal when Vieira or Henry were not in the side. The amazing thing is that with Wayne Rooney you are still talking about someone who is a young kid with years and years ahead of him.

‘There’s a number of players, like Roy Keane, who love playing and would do it for nothing. They will run all day. They’ll train in the morning, they’ll train in the afternoon. Wayne is the same.

‘The biggest turn on in life is they love playing football. If you took him off with five minutes to go he would have his dummy out because he’d want to play that last five minutes.

‘Manchester United always used to get better and stronger in the second half of the season and I think last year shocked them because Chelsea started well and didn’t slip away.

‘You can’t start slow now. You can’t give Chelsea a lead. United went on a really brilliant run last season but couldn’t pull them back.

‘But I would think if you look back on all their championship wins, United have got more points now than they had then at this time of the season. It’s too easy to disregard United.

‘You can’t deal with Abramovich and his millions but I think United will be still saying ‘we want to win the league and if we can’t, we want to finish second and win some cups.”