It was never about Beckham. For the next six months, it will be all about Rooney
IN THE end, it wasn't about 34-year-old David Beckham, it was about 24-year-old Wayne Rooney. And it will be all about Rooney for the next six months.
Manchester United's 3-2 win over AC Milan at the San Siro last night left Sir Alex Ferguson drooling and the rest of the world trembling.
Three hours before Beckham's Champions League clash against his old side, I said on Twitter: 'All set for the Becks and Fergie show. My money's on Man United. And Rooney to win the day.'
Rooney's two second-half headers - unlike some England players, he's starting to use his head to some effect - were his 24th and 25th goals in a best-ever season.
He is, by five goals, the best striker in Europe right now - his 21 Premier League goals have him five ahead of next-best Lionel Messi at Barcelona.
He has stepped up following the record-breaking transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo and he is ready to spearhead England's World Cup campaign in South Africa this summer. No question.
It's not as if Beckham was that bad. He should be on the flight to Rustenburg on June 1 too. And his Milan side, as he mentioned afterwards, are not out of it after a five-goal extravaganza at the San Siro. The second-leg at Old Trafford on 10 March promises to be quite a night.
Fergie drooled: "Wayne's in devastating form, they could not handle him in the second half. He was marvellous. He has to be regarded at the highest level, along with all the other players we know about."
That's the Scotsman's way of saying: "YES, BLOODY HELL, HE'S THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW."
And he's not far off - though Ronaldinho looked a bit special last night too.
Ferguson points out why Rooney is more important though: "He should score 30 goals this season, over the last two months, there has been a marked improvement in his game. Confidence has a lot to do with it of course. I just felt he had to improve his goalscoring, which is what he is doing now."
Beckham, hauled off after 72 industrious minutes which provided a few scares for his old boss, said: "I've always said Wayne is one of the best goalscorers in the world and he is obviously on fire again. If you give him chances he'll score goals, that's the way he is and the way his mind works."
Ronaldinho put Milan ahead, Paul Scholes scuffed an equaliser, then Rooney struck twice to give United a 3-1 edge which was drmatically cut back five minutes from the end by a lovely back-heeled Clarence Seedorf effort fromm close range.
Beckham concluded: "Clarence's second goal has made a comeback possible. It's not easy to go to Old Trafford and win 2-0 but we have made it a bit better for ourselves."
Back in the Premier League, former Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira got himself into trouble during Manchester City's 1-1 draw with Stoke City - Sky Sports News keep showing pictures of him shoving a boot into some poor Stoke lad's privates - and tonight his old side Arsenal take on Porto with five players injured. Apparently the Portuguese have injury problems too.
I suspect it won't be quite as good as last night's European extravaganza.