Sunday 23 April 2017

Rooney risks Fergie wrath

Wayne Rooney with manager Alex Ferguson. Photo: Getty Images
Wayne Rooney with manager Alex Ferguson. Photo: Getty Images

Jeremy Wilson

WAYNE ROONEY has taken the extraordinary step of speaking out in defiance of Alex Ferguson by denying that his recent absencefrom Manchester United teams was due to an ankle injury.

In a move that contradicts his manager, Rooney stressed there had been no injury and claimed that he did not know why Ferguson gave this as the explanation for his omission from the games against Valencia and Sunderland.

“I’ve had no problems with my ankle all season,” Rooney said. “I’ve been training for the last two months and I haven’t missed a training session, so there’s no problem with my fitness.”

Asked why Ferguson had said that he did have an ankle injury, Rooney replied: “Don’t know.”

Rooney has been in and out of the United team since allegations surfaced in September that he slept with prostitutes. Ferguson initially left him out of the match against Everton because he said he did not want to subject Rooney to abuse from fans at Goodison Park.

He then played against Rangers and Liverpool, before being substituted after 61 minutes of the 2-2 draw with Bolton. Ferguson then said that he would be out for up to three weeks with an ankle injury, but refused to go into detail over the precise nature of the problem.

“I think Wayne will be two to three weeks,” he said. “It is a straightforward ankle injury. Nobody likes to be injured, but he is. There is nothing you can do about it. What do you want me to say? Do you want me to describe every ligament? Christ.”

FRUSTRATION

Rooney was pictured leaving hospital in Manchester on September 29 after supposedly having had a scan.

The striker’s decision to apparently set the record straight not only underlines his frustration at missing games, but risks a significant fracture in his relationship with Ferguson. Rooney has been well below his best this season, but it would seem unthinkable that Ferguson would drop his star striker for purely football reasons. It leads to the suspicion that Rooney has been left out either because of concern about his psychological state following the recent publicity or on disciplinary grounds.

England manager Fabio Capello was certainly satisfied that there was no problem with Rooney’s ankle this week and he played the full 90 minutes against Montenegro on Tuesday.

Rooney is yet to score in open play for United this season and is adamant that he now just wants regular football, starting with the match against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. “I felt better (in the England game),” he said. “I felt sharp. You need games to get your fitness in. I played a few games and felt I was getting sharp, but then missed three or four and then don’t feel as sharp as I thought I would do. I just want to keep playing consistently.”

Various theories have been put forward for Rooney’s poor form during the World Cup, but he also denied that there had been any physical problems. “Towards the end of last season I was injured, but during the World Cup I trained in every session and had no problems fitness wise,” he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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