Despite scoring twice for Manchester United in a comfortable 4-0 victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney was far from his brilliant best yesterday.
The 26-year-old striker may have netted his 23rd and 24th Premier League goals of the 2011-12 campaign - taking his overall tally to an impressive 31 - but even by his own admission, said there were parts of his game that were below par.
Over the past few years, Rooney has proved that he is at his most effective when playing 'on the edge' - as Sir Alex Ferguson describes - rather than when the Red Devils are in complete control of a game.
"I think Wayne is the type of player who has to play on the edge in a game really," Ferguson told MUTV. "When it's a really close and competitive game.
"When it gets to that casual bit, he's worse than the rest of them. He gets so casual about it. He's better when he's right on the edge because he's a marvellous player when he's right on the edge."
'Casual and careless' might be a harsh assessment of a player whose goals came at a crucial time; the first opened the scoring from the penalty spot, with less than ten minutes on the clock, while his second came midway through the second half, with the score at 2-0, and United already having taken their foot off the gas.
But Rooney appeared equally critical of his own display saying: "It was nice to score two goals but I didn't think my performance was good enough.
"I was disappointed with that but obviously I'm happy with the goals. It's the points that are important at this time of the year, and if I can score the goals that get those points then I'll be pleased."
His United strike partner, Danny Welbeck - who himself got on the scoresheet when he netted the second goal against Villa - feels any criticism directed towards the England international is unwarranted, having turned in such consistent displays all season.
"He's been on a hot streak all through the season and he keeps banging in the goals," he explained. "If he's said he's disappointed in his own performance, that just shows you what sort of character he is.
"He's scoring goals and he's still not happy. That's only going to help our team and have a positive effect."
United turned in a team performance with great attacking intent, bagging four goals to produce the perfect response to last Wednesday's shock defeat to Wigan Athletic.
"Obviously we were disappointed with our performance against Wigan but we had a chance to get that out of our system and keep that distance between us and Manchester City," Rooney added. "It was a big game for us and we deserved to win, credit must go to the team.
"We created a few chances and they made quite a few blocks and saves, but it was a good result for us and we got the three points, which is the most important thing.
"It's always nice to score a penalty and it settled us down a little bit. The goal just before half time was a great boost for us and a blow for them .There was only going to be one winner after that, thankfully we got two more goals."
With 24 league goals, two in the FA Cup, and five in Europe making a grand total of 31 for the campaign, Rooney's overall goalscoring return for Manchester United currently stands at 178 - just one short of the number set by George Best and Dennis Viollet in the club's list of all-time leading marksmen.
"It would be great to equal the record and hopefully surpass them," he concluded. "It would be a great achievement that I would be proud of but I can't really look at that at the minute.
"If it happens then great, hopefully it will before the end of the season, but I'm just concentrating on my game."
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