Van Persie relishing Rooney partnership

Braga have the daunting task of trying to subdue two of Europe's finest frontmen when the Portuguese minnows visit Old Trafford for Tuesday's Champions League group H clash.

But to make matters worse for Braga, Van Persie, who has eight goals in 10 appearances for United, believes his understanding with Rooney has gradually clicked into gear after a slow start following his pre-season move from Arsenal.

Van Persie's lack of match practice and an injury to Rooney meant the two have played together only fleetingly in the opening weeks of the season.

They are finally getting some prolonged time on the pitch to work on their relationship and the response has been impressive, as Stoke found out on Saturday when Rooney scored twice and Van Persie also netted in a 4-2 win.

The deadly duo were also responsible for three of the four assists against Stoke and Braga's defenders could have been forgiven for cursing their luck as Van Persie described the rapid development of United's strikeforce.

"We are definitely getting more of an understanding," Van Persie said. "We like to play together and work well together … It is only the second or third time we have played in this formation but offensively and defensively, we help each other out."

Good signs
With Danny Welbeck also a growing threat up front and Javier Hernandez, Nani, Shinji Kagawa and Ashley Young also offering their own attacking menace, it is no surprise Van Persie expects United to produce a glut of goals as the season continues.

"We do look exciting going forward. We can score all sorts of goals from many different angles," he said.

"That is a good sign and should be a real weapon for us as the season goes on."

While United are in rampant form going forward, Van Persie admits they must tighten up at the back after Rooney's own goal on Saturday left them trailing for the seventh time in 11 matches this season.

It is a run that has already cost Alex Ferguson's side valuable points against Everton and Tottenham and Van Persie said: "It has happened too often. We have to work on it because we can only do better."

Defence woes
United's defensive woes mean Ferguson may think twice before dropping Rio Ferdinand, who angered the Scot by ignoring his request that all of his players show support for the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign by wearing the equality group's T-shirts during the pre-match warm-up before the Stoke game.

Ferdinand, angry at what he perceived to be a weak punishment of Chelsea defender John Terry for racially abusing the United star's brother Anton last year, refused to wear the T-shirt and Ferguson responded by saying the veteran centre-back would be "dealt with".

With or without Ferdinand, United should extend their 100% start to the Champions League group stage with another success after their victories over Galatasaray and CFR Cluj.

Ferguson won't take Braga for granted however as they won 2-0 at Galatasaray in their last group fixture and are currently on a five-match unbeaten run against English opposition.

"Traditionally there have always been three teams in Portugal, Sporting Lisbon, who have dropped off a bit at the moment, Porto and Benfica," Ferguson said.

"But now Braga have become the third best team in Portugal. They drew 2-2 at Benfica, played really well and should have won … I spoke to [United's Portugal winger] Nani, who said they are very positive away from home … I saw that in the Benfica game, so we won't be taking anything for granted." – AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Steve Griffiths
Guest Author

Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it

Press Releases

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations