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MANCHESTER - Sir Alex Ferguson has pleaded with Manchester United supporters to put their dissatisfaction with the club's owners behind them and back his team as they attempt to retain their Premier League title.
Before Saturday's 4-0 victory over Hull, which featured an astonishing four-goal performance from Wayne Rooney, Ferguson used his programme notes to appeal for United's increasingly militant fans to cease their campaign against the Glazer family.
"The family of Manchester United is under pressure as a result of all the issues and controversies surrounding the ownership and financial situation of our club," wrote Ferguson. "Some of our fans are clearly unhappy with the financial position, but we mustn't allow the situation to become divisive."
During the victory over Hull, which took United to the top of the table for the first time in more than three months, supporters sporadically broke into chants against the Glazers though Ferguson insisted that was no problem for his players.
"I don't think it was dissenting against them at all and I don't think it affected the players," he said.
Instead, Ferguson focused on Rooney's performance, which took his season's tally to 20 goals, three short of his personal best.
"Wayne's goals were, without a doubt, the highlight," said Ferguson. "It's the first time he has scored four (in one match) for us and the first time a United player has scored four since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer some years ago.
"That was pleasing. He's in great goalscoring form at the moment."
Ferguson was also content with the return of England defender Rio Ferdinand for the first time since October.
"I thought, apart from a spell with 20 minutes to go, that the back four looked very comfortable. Rio's presence, composure and balance stands out." - Sapa-AFP