Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney has praised strike-partner Javier Hernandez for helping him progress over the past 12 months, and believes they can go on to score goals together for many years to come.
The 25-year-old England international went into the 2010/11 season under a cloud following a poor performance at the World Cup in South Africa. And his failure to hit top form continued with United, as Rooney scored just three times in United's opening 17 games of the campaign.
However, Rooney would go on to end the season with 17 goals to his name for club and country - partly thanks to the unexpected emergence of Mexican goal-getter Hernandez.
'Chicharito' arrived at Old Trafford having impressed for his country at the World Cup, and took the Premier League by storm - the 23-year-old's predatory instincts in front of goal resulting in him netting 20 times in all competitions.
And Rooney, speaking exclusively in the September issue of FourFourTwo - out now - reveals that he would not have finished last season so strongly - netting 10 times in United's final 18 games - had it not been for 'Little Pea'.
"Before he came I'd only seen clips of him, and then I saw him at the World Cup. Then when he turned up, we were excited because you could see what kind of player he is," he says.
"I don't think any of us expected him to do what he did. To come in and cement your place in the team at such a young age is an incredible achievement, and I think he's helped me progress too. I can play in a deeper role and get more of the ball when he's there for defenders to worry about.
"I always want more of the ball and that position helps me see more of it. We suit each other. It could be a partnership for years."
Winning the Premier League last season saw United capture a record 19th league crown, finally usurping rivals Liverpool's haul of 18 - the last of which they lifted in 1990.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson has already bolstered his ranks as he goes in search of the club's 20th league title, bringing in Phil Jones, Ashley Young and David de Gea for a combined fee of more than £50 million.
But Rooney believes that one or two of the Red Devils' talented youth team players may not be too far away from a call-up to the first team, having caught his eye in training.
"The youth team train with the first team at United, we see their progress every day - and Paul Pogba has really impressed me," he says.
"He's gained a few pounds and he was outstanding last season. Then there's Ravel Morrison and Ryan Tunnicliffe... they've all got big futures and hopefully you should see them figure, if not this season then in the next season or so."
The September issue of FourFourTwo not only features interviews with Rooney, Hernandez and Rafael Benitez, but you also get the world-famous Season Preview, and this year it is bigger and better than ever - a whopping great 132-pager.
What's in it? We analyse and rate (or slate) every single team from the Premier League to the Blue Square Bet Premier plus the SPL – and look at the top six European Leagues: Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Portugal and Holland. Try digital version (or buy paper one)comments