Sir Alex Ferguson has said he was not surprised that Wayne Rooney failed to shine at Euro 2012, saying the forward's weeks without competitive football before the game against Ukraine had been too much.
Rooney was suspended for the first two group games of the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, meaning he had not played competitively for more than a month.
Ferguson said that made it impossible for the Manchester United forward to produce his best form, adding that he thought Rooney starring in the Euros would be "a difficult ask".
"We know him better than anybody, and he needs a lot of football," the United manager said.
"Wayne's a stocky lad. If he misses couple of games it takes him three or four to come back, and he didn't play competitively from his last game [for United] on May 13 until the third game of the Euros more than a month later." He admitted that Rooney "didn't look as sharp as normal" against Ukraine or in the quarter-final against Italy, adding: "It is very hard to play two big games in four days."
Ferguson also urged Danny Welbeck to maintain his progress after the old Trafford forward impressed at the Euros, scoring a superb flicked winner against Sweden.
The 21-year-old hit 12 goals in all competitions for United last season, but his manager said: "Danny can be a top player, but obviously he will have to improve his goalscoring.
"He got nine goals last season [in the Premier League] - but if you are going to be a top striker you have to get 20 or above. I think he will do that."