Ex-Chelsea star: 178-goal striker is key to United's top four ambitions

Former Chelsea and Derby County midfielder Craig Burley believes Wayne Rooney's form is the key to a top four finish for Manchester United

ESPN pundit Craig Burley believes Wayne Rooney's current form gives Manchester United 'a chance' of finishing in the top four. 

The 43-year-old outspoken presenter lauded the current form of the England striker, stating that if he continues in a similar vein he will give Louis van Gaal's men a chance at a Champions League finish. However, conceded that it will be a close call for the Red Devils

''I think the biggest plus point, and not just for Manchester United, but also for England is Wayne Rooney,'' Burley told ESPN.

''Wayne Rooney's attitude, his application and his end product in the last couple of weeks for club and country has been superb."

''If that continues they give themselves a chance [of a top four finish in the Premier League] but I think it will be a close call for them.''

Rooney, who was named the new United captain in the summer following Vidic's departure, was in fantastic form for both club and country during November, scoring five goals in six appearances. 

In fact, the goal against Hull City, his last goal and appearance of the month, meant the often criticised £26 million man now has 178 Premier League goals in total, meaning he is just 10 away from moving up to second in the league's list of top goalscorers. 

On top of that, the 29-year-old earned his 100th and 101st England cap in the two international games during November, scoring three goals in the process to put him just four international goals away from becoming the countries all-time top scorer.  

After a slow start, United have put themselves into a good position with just over a third of the season played. They sit just the one point away from Southampton in third and just the five away from local-rivals Manchester City in second. Although the domination of Chelsea, who are 11 points clear of them, all but kills the hope of adding to their Premier League trophy collection this season.

Nevertheless, a top four finish for United would signal significant progress after failing to even come close last season, and would no doubt set them up for a full-blooded assault on the title in the next campaign. 

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