'He was the greatest manager of all time' - Wayne Rooney buries the hatchet with Alex Ferguson
Wayne Rooney has buried the hatchet with Sir Alex Ferguson by describing the Manchester United legend as “the greatest manager of all time” as he stands on the brink of making England history.
Former United manager Ferguson spoke fondly of Rooney’s ability ahead of the striker equalling Sir Bobby Charlton’s England goalscoring record against San Marino.
With goal number 50 and the outright record now in his sights against Switzerland at Wembley on Tuesday night, Rooney has stated his respect for Ferguson.
The relationship between the two men broke down in Ferguson’s final season in charge at Old Trafford, when Rooney was played out of position to accommodate Robin van Persie.
Rooney’s fall-out with Ferguson came to a head when he was dropped for a Champions League tie against Real Madrid and told the Scotsman that his future lay away from United.
Ferguson made that exchange public before his final game in charge of United, but the pair now appear to have made their peace.
“I don't know if anyone knows how things ended (between us),” said Rooney. “We had differences (of opinion). That's normal. Ask Roy (Hodgson), he's had differences with other players. That's part of football. I'm not the only person who had differences with Sir Alex Ferguson, but I can still sit here and say he was the greatest manager of all time.
“I still see Sir Alex quite a bit at games and he travels away to European games with us. It's not that we don't like each other. We just had differences. That's normal.”
Rooney’s attitude towards Ferguson is markedly different to that of Roy Keane, who does not speak to his former manager and accused him of “lies, basic lies” within his book. David Beckham, though, repaired his relationship with the 73-year-old.
While Keane and Beckham both left United, Rooney remained at Old Trafford following Ferguson’s decision to retire. The 29-year-old is captain for club and country, and believes it will be the England manager and not him who decides when his international career is over.
Rooney will win his 107th England cap against Switzerland and hopes to surpass 50 goals for his country. He believes he can play in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, following next summer’s European Championships, and is then prepared to see whether he still has a key role to play.
“I'm sure, when that time comes, I'll have to listen to my body,” said Rooney. “I said the other night, I feel I'm capable of going to Russia. After that, it may be a realistic time to see how I feel and if I feel it's not right for England or myself, I'll have a decision to make. Or the manager would have a decision to make.
“If I feel I can carry on, I'll try. But I won't be one to say I'm not available for selection. I'm sure it'll probably be the manager's choice more than mine. It's a huge honour to play for England. If the manager feels I can't do it…I imagine it'll be difficult to say I'm ready not to play. If the manager says he doesn't feel I'm in his plans for the next tournament (after Russia), it's probably better I don't play in the qualifying games because I won't be going to the tournament.
“I feel I've got still quite a lot of games left to play for England. If I was sat here saying ‘I just want to get 50 goals’ then I'd be lying. I'd be disappointed if I ended my England career on 50 goals. I want to kick on and try to score as many goals as I can.
“I've still got plenty of games to do that. Hopefully by the time I finish playing, it will be more goals than 50.”
Rooney’s United team-mate Michael Carrick was forced to withdraw from the England squad with a calf injury on Monday, forcing Hodgson to change his plans for the Switzerland game.
Rooney is congratulated by his team-mates against San Marino
Midfielder Carrick has only played twice for England since October 2013, but Hodgson still hopes the 34-year-old will be fit to be part of his Euro 2016 squad.
“There's so much water to pass under the bridge, it's not the time to make a judgement (on whether he will be fit for the Euros),” said Hodgson. “He might get over this very quickly and go on to play a big part for United and hardly miss a game. I hope it won't be a recurring injury, but I don't know. It's a question for United and Michael, not for me.”
England have confirmed they will play a friendly against Spain at Rico Perez Stadium in Alicante on Friday November 13. The Football Association have also confirmed that England will use the Auberge du Je de Paume hotel in Chantilly and the Chantilly FC training ground during Euro 2016.
Hodgson will speak with the FA about his preparations for the tournament and could also talk to the Premier League about him getting access to his players in the New Year and attempting to make sure they are not taken on long post-season tours by their clubs.
“After the draw in France, that’s the moment to go into more detail about this,” said Hodgson. “What do we need in those five months between December to May?”