WAYNE ROONEY has admitted that he was "tense" after being fined by Alex Ferguson over his performance in training following his night out on St Stephen's Day and that it affected his performance on the pitch.
The Manchester United striker added that he has fallen out with Ferguson in the past, but that the Old Trafford manager was "the greatest present life has given me."
Speaking to the Italian newspaper 'La Repubblica', the 26-year-old also responded to Roberto Mancini's claim that he got Vincent Kompany sent off during last Sunday's explosive Manchester derby.
"It's a question of points of view," said Rooney, whose words might seem unusually expressive having been translated into Italian and back again.
"He (Mancini) claimed that I encouraged the referee to send off Kompany with a gesture.
"If it was like that, every player who makes that gesture after suffering a foul would direct the game in place of the referee and, obviously, it can't be like that.
"And the fact that it was a legitimate sending-off is confirmed by the four-match suspension and the rejection of the appeal."
On the subject of Ferguson, Rooney was candid. "You can't always live in harmony," he said.
"Football is made up of conflict. In all senses. The life in a dressing-room, between players, between us and the coach, between us and loads of people who don't seem to matter and instead are fundamental -- it's continuous confrontation. At times harsh."
Did he complain about the fine, which amounted to one week's wages?
"Yes, but for reasons that I can't make public. I accepted it. But I was tense when I got back on the pitch and I believe it showed."
Not that he appears to hold it against Ferguson. Asked who has given him the most in football, he answered: "My manager Alex Ferguson: the greatest present life has given me."
Rooney also spoke about Cristiano Ronaldo, who left Old Trafford for Real Madrid in 2009.
"It was thrilling and also a learning experience to play alongside him," he said.
"(I was) perhaps a little (disappointed when he left). But I was also quite happy for him too, because he had the desire to have another experience; 87 goals in 80 games with Real Madrid says it all, no?"
One of the reasons Rooney was not too worried about Ronaldo's departure was his club's resilience, he said.
"For this reason, the club is perfect: and don't say that I'm biased."
Having declared his continued love for Everton ("if I were to say I did not support them, I'd be ashamed"), the native Merseysider demonstrated how much he was relishing the FA Cup fourth-round encounter with Liverpool: "I'm ready for it."
He also paid tribute to Lionel Messi, who won the Ballon d'Or ahead of Rooney, who also missed out on goal of the year to Neymar.
"Messi is scary," Rooney said. "I will never forget when I saw him for the first time. I was in front of the TV, I believe it was 2005. He impressed me to the point that I wondered whether the tape recorder was broken."
Does Rooney covet the Ballon d'Or? "Not really, he said. "Without looking to offend anyone, a Champions League is always better." (© Independent News Service)