I was wrong, admits Rooney
Striker sorry for United contract renewal stand-off
Published 01/01/2011 | 05:00
Wayne Rooney has admitted he was wrong to demand assurances over Manchester United's ambition and described his World Cup campaign as a 'disaster' in a remarkably candid review of his nightmare year.
Rooney, who begins 2011 against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns today searching for his first goal in open play for United since last March, appears to be approaching form once again after seeing 2010 ruined by injury, lurid off-field revelations and his acrimonious contract stand-off at Old Trafford.
But the England forward has admitted that the draining effects of his life in the spotlight has also become an increasingly difficult burden to carry.
The 25-year-old ultimately pledged his long-term future to United in October after threatening to leave due to concerns over the club's ability to compete for honours.
But having been persuaded to stay by Alex Ferguson and United's owners, the Glazer family, Rooney now claims that he had no right to question the direction of the club.
"Towards the end, when it all came out (that I wouldn't renew my contract), it did look like it had gone too far," Rooney said.
"I went in to see the manager and David Gill and explained (my reasons) and basically asked for answers, really. But looking back now, it really was nothing to do with me.
"I just wanted to make sure that signing was the right thing to do and I got the answers in the end. But it was probably wrong of me to do that. I'm just glad it got sorted and that it's all over now."
With Manchester City understood to be ready to lure Rooney to Eastlands, the week-long contract stalemate stoked tensions among the United supporters, with a small group of hooded fans arriving at Rooney's house warning of the consequences of a move across the Mancunian divide.
Rooney admits that that scene was 'intimidating', but insists he had already made up his mind to stay by the time the mob descended on his home.
"With my wife and kid in the house it was just a bit intimidating, but it got calmed down." he said. "I looked out and there was about 30 there all with hoods up, but there was no harm done. I think they wanted me to invite them in!
"But that night, I'd spoken with the Glazers, the manager and David Gill. They called me to speak to me and just said the club was going to carry on moving forward and being successful.
"From there, I phoned my agent and organised a meeting with David Gill. Then I went training the next day and it took two hours to negotiate it.
"We still (Rooney and his family) go to Liverpool four times a week so she (wife Coleen) is delighted I've stayed because we're close to our families. I don't think she'd have fancied going a long way.
"People said I was odds-on to go to Man City. That was never the case. There was no way I'd have gone there, but I know I've made the right decision. I've made myself happy."
Although 2010 ultimately became the most turbulent year in Rooney's career, it began in spectacular fashion with the player scoring 19 goals in 18 games between New Year's Day and March 30 -- the night he suffered an ankle injury against Bayern Munich.
From that point on, Rooney's year descended on a downward spiral and, having been billed as a potential star of the World Cup, he endured a miserable campaign in South Africa, failing to score in England's four games and criticising supporters for booing during the 0-0 draw against Algeria.
But Rooney insists that he went into the World Cup fully fit, despite concerns over the state of his ankle.
"Before I met up with England, I wasn't really right," Rooney said. "But I trained in every session with England before the World Cup and I felt fit.
"There was no problem with my ankle, but the World Cup was obviously a disaster.
"We were training well and everything seemed good. There was talk of trouble in the camp, but everyone was fine and there was no trouble.
"But in the games we were terrible really and we just didn't get going in the tournament.
"People say that the players don't care, but the players that were there all seemed to care and it does hurt."
Rooney remains unrepentant over his decision to hit back at fans for booing during the Algeria game.
"Of course you feel sorry for the fans," he said. "It's all the emotion of not doing well, but for the players, when you have fans booing after 10 minutes -- that's what I was saying.
"You can understand it in the last 10 minutes, but from the first 10 minutes? That's disappointing because, if the fans are behind us 100pc and giving you the atmosphere to kick things on, that can really help you."
In a year when Ferguson claimed that Rooney was struggling to deal with the 'exhausting' side-effects of life in the spotlight, the player himself describes the focus on him as "horrible".
"I hate it (the intrusion) and I wouldn't wish it on anyone." Rooney said.
"I signed my new deal and went off to Dubai and there were 10 reporters kicked out of the hotel.
"They were sat on sun-beds next to us. They had holes in their newspapers, pretending to read them and taking pictures. It was a horrible time." (© Daily Telegraph, London)